Activists from Malaysian NGO Lawyers for Liberty have demanded that the Singaporean government abolish the death penalty and withdraw all charges against British author Alan Shadrake.

NONEIn a protest memorandum addressed to the Singapore High Commission, a group of about 10 activists led by lawyer N Surendran (centre in photo) called for judicial reform in the Singapore justice system.

The memorandum contained multiple requests, amongst them to abolish the death penalty, and pardon Malaysian Yong Vui Kong, who faces the gallows for drug trafficking.

Included is a call to withdraw all charges against Shadrake, who has been arrested and charged over his controversial book ‘Once A Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock’.

First secretary Walter Chia received the memorandum on behalf of the high commissioner T Jasudasen, who did not meet with the group despite repeated requests.

‘M Vignes unfairly executed’

The memorandum also demands for Malaysian factory worker M Vignes’ name to be cleared posthumously. 

NONEVignes (left in photo) was hangedin Changi Prison in 2003 for allegedly giving 27.65g of heroin to an undercover police officer in September 2001, according to court documents. 

Vignes’ family however maintains his innocence, and Shadrake’s book which covered the case also alleges that the police officer was of questionable character.

Vignes’ father V Mourthi (topmost photo), who was present with the lawyers at the protest, recalled that when lawyer M Ravi asked whether Vignes had to die because of procedure, then-Singapore chief justice Yong Pung How “arrogantly” threw down his pen and answered, “Yes.” 

Surendran cried foul over Vignes’ hanging and decried Yong’s conduct during the trial, saying, “It was as if the former chief justice killed an innocent Malaysian with his own hands.”

Mourthi sold his property to finance Vignes’ defence and now sells kuih in Johor Bahru. 

Jolly Hangman selling well in JB

Also present at the protest were lawyers Latheefa Koya and Fadiah Nadwa Fikri as well as Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD) executive director Chong Ton Sin, who is the publisher of ‘The Jolly Hangman’.

NONEChong said that sales of the book in Johor Bahru were brisk because although the Singaporean government had not banned the book, bookshops in the republic have been advised not to sell them openly.

The book is now in its third edition and 4,000 copies have been sold so far.

Around 20 uniformed police officers and 10 plainclothes personnel had gathered outside the Singapore High Commission, but the protest was incident-free.