Press Statement

Malaysian citizen Pannir Selvam scheduled for execution in S’pore on 24 May has been denied his constitutional rights

18 May 2019


On 17th May 2019, the family of Malaysian citizen Pannir Selvam a/l Pranthaman aged 32 were notified by Singapore that he would be executed at Changi prison the following week.


The execution by hanging is to be carried out at dawn on Friday 24th May 2019. In their letter of notification, the Singapore Prison Service has asked the family to ‘make the necessary funeral arrangements’ for Pannir.


The family, who are resident in KL, have been given a mere 1 weeks notice to prepare for the hanging and to spend time with Pannir. This is oppressive and unjust to both Pannir and his family.


Pannir was convicted on 27 June 2017 by the Singapore High Court of allegedly trafficking in 51.84 g of diamorphine at Woodlands Checkpoint on 3rd September 2014.


Pannir has consistently denied that he knew he was carrying prohibited drugs. Further, the High Court judge in convicting him, found that he was a mere courier or drug mule.


Once again, Singapore is planning to execute a mere drug mule, whilst the drug kingpins continue to ply their trade with impunity.


More disturbingly, Pannir’s final recourse of a clemency petition to the President of Singapore has been tainted with illegality and unlawful acts by the Singapore authorities.


The letter from the President refusing clemency is dated 17 May 2019, but the letter notifying family of the execution was posted out on 16 May 2019. How can the prison proceed to execution prior to the date of refusal of clemency by the President? This is a serious and shocking irregularity that taints the entire clemency process.


The fact that the refusal of clemency letter and the notification of execution are both dated 17 May 2019 also suggests executive interference in the clemency process. President Halimah Yacob could not have applied her mind properly to the clemency plea as she is bound to do under Article 22P of the Singapore Constitution.


It is regrettable that Singapore seems to be playing fast and loose with the life of this

Malaysian national.


Pannir had strong grounds for clemency as he had assisted Singapore authorities by providing critical information about one Anand who is believed to be the mastermind who had duped Pannir into carrying a package to Singapore. Anand is believed to be in Malaysia and still active in the drug trade.


The Malaysian was also unreasonably denied the certificate of assistance by the public prosecutor despite the information he had supplied on Anand. The certificate would have enabled the court to pass a sentence of life imprisonment instead of death.


It is appallingly clear from the cavalier and irregular way in which the President’s office and the Prison Services dealt with Pannir’s clemency that they intended all the while to proceed with the execution come what may. They did not undertake the clemency process of this Malaysian citizen honestly or lawfully and had thus breached his constitutional rights.


Malaysia cannot stand by and watch as our citizen’s rights are denied and subsequently executed. We urge the Malaysian government to make strong representations to Singapore for the execution to be halted, and for the sentence to be commuted to imprisonment. This is particularly so as the Malaysian government has announced that the death penalty for drug offences in Malaysia will be abolished.


We further urge Singapore not to proceed with the hanging of this young Malaysian. Singapore will not rid the Island of the drug problem by hanging low level drug mules. Instead, Singapore will only gain the abhorrence of the civilised world for its brutal and ineffective methods.


Issued by,

N Surendran


Lawyers for Liberty