Rights group denounces Singapore for lecturing Malaysia after executing Malaysian

Justin Ong
Lawyers for Liberty advisor N. Surendran accused Singapore’s Law as well as Home Affairs Ministry of 'blatantly lying' in its claim that the death penalty was an effective deterrent. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Singapore was “breathtakingly arrogant” for telling Malaysia to improve anti-drug enforcement right after the republic executed a Malaysian drug mule, said the Lawyers for Liberty group.

N. Surendran, the advisor for the group that provides legal assistance to Malaysians sentenced to die by the republic, also accused the Singapore ministers who issued the call of seeking to mislead the public.

Yesterday, Singapore confirmed that it executed Abd Helmi Ab Halim, a 36-year-old Malaysian, for trafficking 16g of heroin, an offence Surendran argued was disproportionate to the death sentence meted out.

“Secondly, the statement also suggested that Malaysia is not doing enough to arrest drug kingpins in Malaysia. This is an undiplomatic swipe at a friendly neighbour. 

“It is intended to hide the fact that Singapore itself has done little to catch the drug kingpins, while regularly executing low-level drug mules. It is significant that Singapore is unable to point to a single major drug kingpin arrest by their own enforcement bodies,” he said in a statement.

The lawyer also accused Singapore’s Law as well as Home Affairs Ministry of “blatantly lying” in its claim that the death penalty was an effective deterrent.

Surendran further accused the republic of deceit for claiming that capital punishment was consistent with “international law obligations”, noting that the UN Human Rights Committee and UN Special Rapporteurs have stressed that the death penalty for drug offences amounted to unlawful killing.

He added that his group has received information of alleged brutality in the execution, and would reveal this later.

Yesterday, the two Singaporean ministries issued a statement to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong over his plea for clemency on Abd Helmi’s behalf and call for authorities to pursue the “drug kingpins and true masters of the trade”

They told Malaysia to “aggressively root out the drug kingpins in Malaysia who send drug traffickers from Malaysia to Singapore” and “take serious steps to prevent people from being recruited for drug trafficking, and also prevent them from crossing over to Singapore.”

“In this way, Malaysia can do more to help save the lives of Malaysians who would otherwise, become drug traffickers, trafficking drugs into Singapore. Such drug traffickers, by peddling drugs, bring death and misery, and destroy thousands of lives in Singapore,” they said.

Malaysia is working towards repealing the death penalty and has enforced the moratorium on executions pending such legal amendments. 

A Singapore court sentenced Abd Helmi to death in 2017 over his arrest two years earlier with the drugs.

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