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Malaysian King appealed to President Halimah Yacob for clemency in Nagaenthran’s case

The Independent logo The Independent 25/11/2021 Anna Maria Romero
© The Independent Singapore

Malaysia — If convicted drug trafficker Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam escapes the gallows in Singapore, that could be the closest thing to a royal pardon anyone here could receive in this non-royal republic.

That’s because Malaysia’s Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or King himself has appealed to President Halimah Yacob to grant clemency to Nagaenthran, who is a Malaysian national.

Nagaenthran, 33, whose case has been in the international spotlight for some weeks now, had been scheduled to hang on Nov 10.

But then, he tested positive for Covid-19 on Nov 9 and the execution was delayed. Nagaenthran, 33, had been on death row for 11 years.

Malaysia’s Parliament or Dewan Rakyat, was told on Tuesday (Nov 23) that the country’s monarch had written to Madam Halimah appealing for clemency for the drug trafficker.

Malaysia’s deputy foreign minister, Kamarudin Jaffar told the Dewan Rakyat, “We tried all we could to help and I can reveal that apart from the foreign minister and the prime minister, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had also written to the Singapore president for the sentence to be reduced for a certain case, or the individual to be freed.”

Mr Kamarudin said this when answering questions about the Malaysian government’s plan to uphold human rights.

Nagaenthran is said to have an IQ of 69 and to suffer from intellectual disability.

He was arrested for drug trafficking when he was 21, and was sentenced to death for importing 42.72g of heroin into Singapore. At his trial, he claimed he had been coerced by a man who assaulted him and threatened to kill his girlfriend.

Malaysiakini reported last week that Nagaenthran’s lawyer in Singapore, M Ravi, was planning to sue Singapore’s Attorney-General Lucien Wong on behalf of Nagaenthran’s family.

He told Malaysiakini: “What I have is the instruction (from) the family to sue the AG (Wong) over their negligence and willful disregard. After putting them on notice (about) Nagaenthran’s mental health, they should have just stopped and said ‘Okay, I’ll get someone to review’. (There has been a) willful disregard for human life. We will be suing. Nagaenthran and the family will be claiming damages as well.”

Appeals for a stay of execution for Nagaenthran have come from many quarters, including Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, rapporteurs from the United Nations and even celebrities such as British business magnate Richard Branson.

Malaysia’s state news agency Bernama reported on Nov 7 that the Malaysian PM wrote to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong requesting clemency for Nagaenthran.

Activists on both sides of the Causeway have pleaded for a stay of his execution based on extraordinary circumstances, and a petition on the platform appealing for him to be spared has drawn more than 95,000 signatories. /TISG

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