Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Singapore court halts execution of disabled Malaysian amid pleas

Singapore court halts execution of disabled Malaysian amid pleas

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A Singapore court put the execution of a Malaysian man in a drug trafficking case on hold following criticism from campaigners who say he is mentally disabled. AFP

Singapore court halts execution of disabled Malaysian amid pleas

A Singapore court put the execution of a Malaysian man on hold on November 8 pending an appeal, after criticism from rights campaigners who say he is intellectually disabled.

Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam was arrested in 2009 for trafficking 43g – around three tablespoons – of heroin into the city-state, which has some of the world’s toughest anti-drugs laws.

He was sentenced to death the following year and was due to be hanged on November 10 after losing several appeals, despite supporters’ claims his intellectual disability means he is unable to make rational decisions.

But on November 8, the Singapore High Court ordered the execution be put on hold after his lawyers launched a last-ditch legal challenge, arguing that the hanging would be unconstitutional.

The court dismissed the challenge, but agreed to delay the hanging until the Court of Appeal hears the case.

“Good news,” lawyer M Ravi wrote on Facebook, alongside the hashtags #EndCrimeNotLife and #DivineJustice.

But later his Malaysia-based lawyer N Surendran said the appeal court had set November 9 to hear the case, accusing authorities of rushing it so the execution might still take place on November 10.

“No criminal justice system in any country which upholds the rule of law, rushes through criminal appeals in this manner – and all the more so in a death penalty case,” he said in a statement.

Rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have labelled the planned execution “despicable” and “cruel”, while the EU at the weekend urged the city-state to commute the sentence.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob wrote to his Singapore counterpart urging the execution to be postponed on “humanitarian grounds”, according to reports.

An online petition calling for Nagaenthran’s death sentence to be commuted has garnered more than 65,000 signatures.

If the execution goes ahead, it will the first since 2019 in Singapore, which defends its use of capital punishment as an effective deterrent against crime despite mounting calls for its abolition.

Supporters say Nagaenthran has an IQ of 69, a level recognised as an intellectual disability, and was struggling with an alcohol problem at the time of the crime.

But Singapore’s home affairs ministry has defended the decision to press ahead with the hanging, saying that legal rulings had found he “knew what he was doing” at the time of the offence.


  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • NagaWorld protest part of ‘conspiracy’

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court and police held a joint-press conference on January 4 to clarify details concerning the arrest of nine former employees of the integrated resort NagaWorld and the charges brought against them, saying that the authorities had clear grounds for taking legal action.