SINGAPORE: Pannir Selvam Pranthaman is a Malaysian prisoner on death row in Singapore for heroin trafficking. Arrested in 2014 and sentenced to death three years later, he was granted a stay of execution in 2019, one day before he was to be hanged.

In late 2021, however, the Court of Appeal dismissed his application for permission to start judicial review proceedings. And since judicial executions, which temporarily came to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, were resumed at the end of March 2022, Christmas of this year may likely be Pannir Selvam’s last one.

Eleven people so far have been executed in Singapore since March last year, all of whom had been convicted of drug trafficking.

His sisters, Angelia and Sangkari (Shan), recently spoke to the Malaysian national news agency Bernama about their 36-year-old brother, whom they have barely seen since he was imprisoned in Singapore.

And while chances of Pannir Selvam getting another stay of execution are very slim, the women remain steadfast.

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“We cannot give up on anyone in our family. The hope is there,” Shan is quoted as saying.

Pannir’s life story…

Pannir Selvam was born in Ipoh to a Christian family in 1987, the third child out of six. His father was a pastor and lorry driver, and his mother was a housewife.

He moved to Singapore in 2010 and worked as a private security officer, later enrolling at Stamford American International School (SAIS). He continued to work, however, and even funded the university education of one of his sisters.

Pannir Selvam, then 27, was discovered carrying 51.84g of heroin into Singapore on Sept 3, 2014, and was arrested. Under Singapore law, anyone found to be illegally trafficking at least 15g of heroin when he or she is arrested faces capital punishment.

In his defence, he said that he had been acting as a drug mule for a man named “Anand” who had asked him to pass the substance to another man named “Jimmy.”

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Pannir Selvam claimed he was unaware of the nature of the substance he had been asked to carry. He tried but did not qualify for the substantive assistance rule despite cooperating with authorities in Singapore.

“Pannir has been reflecting on his actions in prison. He’s expressed deep remorse about what he has done. We believe Pannir still has a lot to offer society. Inside prison, he’s been reading, self-studying, and following political news – especially developments on Malaysia Baru.

He has also become a man of faith. If given a second chance at life, he hopes to educate others on drug abuse prevention, and support prison reform programmes,” reads a website aimed at appealing to give him another chance.

A petition to save Pannir Selvam’s life has been shared online and signed by 17,000 netizens. /TISG

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