Petaling Jaya—N. Surendran from Malaysian human rights group Lawyers for Liberty is appealing that the scheduled execution of a Malaysian man in Singapore be halted, claiming that the convict and his family have not been given sufficient time for preparations.
Mr Surendran is also appealing for clemency from President Halimah Yacob.
The family of the convict, 28-year-old Micheal Anak Garing, was only told of the execution eight days before he is scheduled to be executed in Changi Prison on Friday, March 22. They were informed that they needed to make “necessary funeral arrangements” for him.
In a statement released on Monday, March 18, Mr Surendran said “This extremely short notice is disturbing and a cause for concern. It gives the family scant time to spend with Michael in his final days and to make preparations.”
Mr Surendran is asking the Government of Singapore to reverse Mr Garing’s stay of execution. Mr Garing was convicted of murder by the Singapore High Court in 2015, a verdict upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2017.
While Mr Surendran acknowledged that punishment was necessary for Mr Garing’s crime, the lawyer also said that Mr Garing deserved a chance to be rehabilitated, and that Singapore would do an “even greater wrong” by executing Mr. Garing.
The lawyer appealed to President Halimah Yacob to change the death penalty to life imprisonment.
“It is not too late to do so. We further urge the government of Singapore to impose a moratorium on all executions and work towards abolition of the death penalty.”
According to International Human Rights lawyer M. Ravi, since there is a moratorium on death penalty cases in Malaysia at the moment, Singapore should consider Mr Surendran’s appeal.
“Given that there is a close relationship between Malaysia and Singapore, and there is currently a moratorium on the death penalty in Malaysia, Singapore may want to hold off on executions, especially since a considerable number of convicts in Singapore’s death row are Malaysian nationals,” Mr Ravi told The Independent.
Micheal Garing’s crime
Mr Garing hails from Kapit, Sarawak. Along with other individuals from Sarawak, he went on a spate of violent robberies from May 29 to 30, 2010 in Kallang.
The group ended up killing four people in all. First to get killed was 24-year-old Sandeep Singh, a construction worker followed by 19-year-old national serviceman Ang Jun Heng, who had been punched, kicked, and slashed with a parang.
Next, the group attacked 43-year-old Egan Karuppaiah, an Indian national in another gruesome killing where his arms were cut off.
Lastly, they killed 41-year-old Shanmuganathan Dillidurai. The group knocked him off his bicycle as he rode along Kallang Road and then stabbed him repeatedly. He died of serious injuries since his skull had been fractured and his jugular vein severed.
It was discovered during the trial that Mr Garing had been wielding the parang during the attacks.
One of Mr Garing’s companions, Tony Imba, has been given a life sentence in prison for his role in the crimes.
Mr Surendran’s plea
Mr Surendran argued that Mr Garing had only been 21 years old in 2010 and that this must be taken into consideration in this case.
“Michael was only 21 years old when he committed the crime. We accept that it was a serious crime and that he must face punishment. But like any young person who has committed a crime, Michael must be given an opportunity for rehabilitation. By executing him, the State is answering his wrongdoing with an even greater wrong.
Singapore gains nothing by carrying out this execution, except to strengthen the perception of indifference and callousness to human life. The death penalty has never been proven to be a deterrent to serious crime.
Killing Micheal only entrenches the culture of violence, and will not make Singaporeans any safer in their daily lives,” he added.
According to its website, “Lawyers for Liberty is a human rights and law reform initiative that seeks to challenge the many unconstitutional, arbitrary and unreasonable decisions and acts perpetrated by the government, its agencies and other public authorities.”