Four Malaysians in Singapore's Changi Prison are expected to face the gallows after having their clemency petitions rejected by the city-state’s president, with a legal rights NGO calling the rejections an indication of an upcoming "execution binge".
The four individuals, who were convicted for drug-related offences, have been identified as K Datchinamurthy, A Gobi, Abdul Helmi Ab Halim, and a man only known as Rahmat.
They are among 10 death row prisoners whose clemency petitions were known to have been rejected in Singapore over the past week, said Lawyers for Liberty adviser N Surendran.
"In Singapore, the rejection of a clemency petition is usually followed soon after by the prisoner's execution.
“Hence, it is probable that these prisoners will be executed within weeks from now," said Surendran in a statement today.
The lawyer noted that the rejection of 10 clemency petitions within the past week amounted to a “record number”, adding that the actual number of prisoners who had had their clemency rejected may be even higher.
“The large and sudden number of clemency rejections are unprecedented and shocking.
“It indicates that Singapore is preparing for an execution binge, in total disregard of international legal norms and decent world opinion,” Surendran said.
Noting that hanging drug mules does not deter drug trafficking syndicates, Surendran raised the question as to whether each prisoner's case had been duly considered by the cabinet and president.
"It is the constitutional right of each prisoner that their clemency petitions be considered adequately, properly and in accordance with established legal principles."
He alleged that a public statement made by Singapore Home Minister K Shanmugam in May suggested that Malaysian prisoners are being targeted.
He cited the minister, who had said, "How do we go easy on Malaysians in the face of these statistics", and that it was "simply not doable to keep asking Singapore not to carry out the penalties imposed by the courts".
Given this concern, Surendran urged the Malaysian government to make representations to Singapore on behalf of its imprisoned citizens facing the gallows.
"The Malaysians form the largest group of foreign nationals now facing execution in Changi," he said.
Recently, another Malaysian, P Pannir Selvam, had received an eleventh-hour stay of execution, only a day before he was scheduled to be hanged in Changi Prison on May 24.
This after the court ruled that Pannir should be given ample time to obtain legal advice after he was informed of his execution date and the president's rejection of his clemency petition only a week in advance.
Surendran, representing Pannir, is part of the legal team challenging Pannir's clemency process and the Singaporean Attorney-General's Chambers' failure to issue a certificate of assistance that would have spared his life.