He confirmed that efforts were being made to save the life of Micheal Anak Garing, saying that people believe the death penalty is an overly harsh punishment, and he hopes that other nations would feel likewise.
At a press conference in the Parliament lobby on Wednesday, March 20, Dr Mahathir made the following comments:
“Yes, we’re trying to save his life as we know that people view death sentence as too harsh. We hope that other countries will take the same stand.”
“So, we are sad because the punishment of hanging should have been replaced by other punishments, just like what we are doing on certain cases.”
One day before Dr Mahathir made these remarks, Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Malaysia’s de facto law minister, announced that a letter from the Malaysian government would be submitted to Singapore asking the Republic to commute the death sentence of Micheal Garing.
In 2015, the Singapore high court had convicted the Sarawak native of murder, a conviction upheld by the court of appeal two years later.
Appeal from Mr Garing’s lawyer
N. Surendran from Malaysian human rights group Lawyers for Liberty appealed earlier this week that the scheduled execution of Mr Garing be halted, claiming that the convict and his family have not been given sufficient time for preparations.
Mr Surendran had also appealed for clemency from President Halimah Yacob.
The family of the 28-year-old convict 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 the 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 killed four people in all: 24-year-old construction worker Sandeep Singh, 19-year-old national serviceman Ang Jun Heng, 43-year-old Indian national Egan Karuppaiah, and 41-year-old Shanmuganathan Dillidurai.
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.
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