We refer to the latest statement issued by the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 6 November 2021 on the impending execution of mentally disabled Malaysian citizen Nagaenthran Dharmalingam.
The MHA had already issued a similar statement on 3 November in response to increasing pressure not to execute a mentally disabled person; this new statement appears to a further reaction to what is now global attention and mounting opposition to the execution on 10 November [now pending].
The contents of both the 3 November and 6 November MHA statements are substantially similar; hence this appears to be mainly a ‘Goebbels-like’ exercise in repetition.
In essence, the MHA again repeats that the courts had assessed all the evidence including psychiatric testimony and had affirmed the death sentence; but this does not answer concerns in Malaysia, Singapore and throughout the world that it is cruel, inhuman and unlawful to execute someone like Nagaenthran who has borderline intellectual functioning, IQ of 69, ADHD and other associated cognitive problems.
We are also appalled that the MHA falsely claims in its statement that the court had assessed the evidence of psychiatrists “including the evidence of a psychiatrist called by the Defence on behalf of Nagaenthran, who agreed in court, that Nagaenthran was not intellectually disabled”. The MHA’s claim that a defence psychiatrist had given evidence that Nagaenthran was not intellectually disabled is an outright lie.
On the contrary, the defence psychiatrist Dr Ung Eng Khean of Adam Medical Centre in fact testified in the High Court that Nagaenthran was intellectually disabled. A quick perusal of the reported judgment will confirm this. We are appalled that in their desperation to stem the tsunami of criticism over this execution, the Singapore MHA has now resorted to such blatant falsities.
The statement also tries to justify the pending execution by stating that Singapore has a “zero-tolerance stance against illicit drugs”. In no way does the excuse of having a tough anti-drug policy, ameliorate or justify the hanging of a mentally disabled person; nothing can make this execution right or palatable to any decent right-minded person.
In the interest of justice and humanity, we urge Singapore not to drag this matter to the eleventh hour, but to the announce a halt to the execution immediately. – 6 November 2021
N Surendran is the advisor of Lawyers for Liberty