In letters debate, lawyer accuses Singapore of intent to silence Malaysian on death row

Ida Lim


Lawyer N. Surendran (pic) argued that the Singapore authority’s allegation of an 'orchestrated campaign' was a wild claim indicating the Singapore government’s intention to shut down the public campaign for Malaysian death row inmate Pannir Selvam Pranthaman.— Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — The letters from Malaysian death row inmate Pannir Selvam Pranthaman and published in the media here were all penned by the convicted drug mule inside Changi Prison, his lawyer maintained today after a Singapore authority claimed otherwise.

N. Surendran rejected the Singapore Prison Service’s claim as “blatantly false”, adding that Pannir Selvam’s family could easily disprove the agency because his letters were all handwritten.

“The series of letters, which were widely published by Malaysian media, were all written by Pannir himself.

“In proof of this, Pannir’s family is in possession of the handwritten copies of the letters which were written by Pannir in prison.

“Further, the copies of Pannir’s handwritten letters were also put up in the official website to save Pannir, www.savepannir.info,” Surendran said in a statement.

“In short, anyone can see by looking at the copies on the website that Pannir did write the letters,” the adviser of rights group Lawyers for Liberty added.

Surendran also said that it was irresponsible for the Singapore agency to have made such a serious accusation “without even checking the material on the website or properly probing the matter”.

“This has only increased the anguish and suffering of the family, which is desperately trying to save Pannir’s life by engaging public support for their cause,” he added.

32-year-old Pannir Selvam is currently on death row in Singapore, and has mounted a legal challenge in the Singapore courts against his death sentence. — Picture courtesy of Pannir Selvam’s family

Last night, the Singapore Prison Service claimed that “someone else” had written the published letters in Pannir Selvam’s name, further alleging that it appeared to be part of an “orchestrated campaign to put pressure on the Singapore government” before adding that it would further investigate the matter.

Today, Surendran argued that the Singapore authority’s allegation of an “orchestrated campaign” was a wild claim indicating the Singapore government’s intention to shut down the public campaign for Pannir Selvam.

In disputing Singapore Prison Service’s claim that Pannir Selvam had allegedly told the authority that he did not write the letters, Surendran asked: “Why would he do that when in fact he did write them and copies of his handwritten versions exist?”

Surendran went on to question if Pannir Selvam had been compelled by Singapore authorities to make the alleged denial, also urging the Singapore government to guarantee his safety in prison.

Surendran also called on Singapore to publicly assure the family and the Malaysian government that it would not continue its allegedly efforts to silence the campaign to save Pannir Selvam.

He also urged the Malaysian government to intervene in the matter, and seek explanations and assurances from Singapore.

32-year-old Pannir Selvam is currently on death row in Singapore, and has mounted a legal challenge in the Singapore courts against his death sentence.

He was arrested in Singapore in September 2014, and was convicted and sentenced to death in May 2017 for being a drug courier due to the 51.84g of diamorphine found on him.

Just a day before his scheduled execution on May 24 this year, Pannir Selvam obtained a last-minute reprieve from the Singapore courts to allow him time to mount his challenge against his death sentence.


Related Articles Singapore Prisons: Articles purportedly by Malaysian drug mule Pannir Selvam not written by him, part of ‘orchestrated campaign’ Notes from inside death row in Singapore Realisations of a Malaysian on Singapore’s death row