Malaysian on death row in S’pore wrote those articles, says lawyer

Lawyer N Surendran says the claim by Singapore that Pannir Selvam Pranthaman did not write the articles is ‘blatantly false’.

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has insisted that a Malaysian on death row in Singapore wrote several articles about his experience in jail and reflection on life, after the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) said they were written by someone else and part of an “orchestrated campaign” to put pressure on the Singapore government.

N Surendran, the lawyer for Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, 31, who was found guilty of carrying 51.84gm of heroin at Woodlands Checkpoint in September 2014, said the claim by SPS was “blatantly false”.

“The series of letters, which were widely published by Malaysian media, were all written by Pannir himself,” Surendran, who is also the Lawyers for Liberty adviser, said in a statement.

As proof of this, he said Pannir’s family was in possession of the handwritten copies of the letters.

He said copies of the letters were also put up on the official website to save Pannir, www.savepannir.info.

“In short, anyone can see by looking at the copies on the website that Pannir did write the letters.

“It was highly irresponsible of Singapore to make such a serious accusation, without even checking the material on the website or properly probing the matter.

“This has only increased the anguish and suffering of the family, which is desperately trying to save Pannir’s life by engaging public support for their cause,” he said.

Surendran said it was quite clear from Singapore’s claim of an “orchestrated campaign against the Singapore government” that it wanted to intimidate and shut down the public campaign for Pannir in Malaysia and worldwide.

“Singapore’s conduct shows that it wants to hang this Malaysian citizen quietly in the near future, and does not want public attention drawn to his case,” he said.

Expressing concern for Pannir’s safety and well-being, he said Pannir would only have written the articles if he had been subjected to threats or other unlawful means of compulsion by the Singapore authorities.

He urged the Singapore government to reveal what they did to “force” Pannir to deny that he wrote the articles, and guarantee his safety in Singapore prison custody.

Yesterday, the SPS said it was told by Pannir that he did not write the articles.

“The articles have been written in Pannir’s name by someone else. This appears to be part of an orchestrated campaign to put pressure on the Singapore government,” it said in a statement, adding that it would further investigate the matter.

Pannir’s plea for clemency has been rejected by the Singapore president, but he was granted a stay of execution in May – just a day before he was due to be executed.

In granting the stay of execution, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that Pannir should “have a reasonable opportunity to take advice on whether he can mount a successful challenge”.