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$20,000 for trying to save a life

This week: Lawyers who took on late-stage death penalty cases punished with cost orders, an acquittal from death row, and some chicken woes.

Kirsten Han
Kirsten Han
3 min read

I tried to update this platform to Ghost 5.0 (how exciting, I love updates) but failed for not because I didn't understand the code. 😅 Help is on the way, I think... that said, I'm not sure that the update matters that much for WTC readers, so maybe I'm just doing this to make myself feel happy only...


In solidarity with lawyers

It's been a month since Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam was hanged. While his family are still grieving, Nagaen's lawyers have been whacked with a $20,000 cost order. The court's position is that, by filing applications in attempts to stay or halt the execution, M Ravi and Violet Netto were wasting the court's time and incurred unnecessary costs, so they have to pay for it. Ravi is also facing other cost orders:

  1. $10,000 for an application relating to the disproportionate representation of Malays on death row in Singapore (with further indemnity costs likely forthcoming)
  2. An estimated $12,000 for applications filed in relation to Roslan, Pausi, and Rosman — three death row prisoners who had received execution notices (but have since received either respite orders or stays of execution)

It all adds up to a tremendous amount of money, simply because Ravi is tireless in fighting late-stage death penalty cases. I really cannot fathom how attempting to save lives could be deemed a waste of time. If the court isn't persuaded by the arguments, it is within their power to dismiss applications. But to penalise lawyers for trying everything and anything before a human being is killed is just grotesque to me.

Ravi is going to need help and support to meet these costs. Please contribute if you can.

Bank details

POSB Savings
Account Name: Ravi Madasamy
Account Number: 308020177
PayNow: +65 9353 1866
Please add “SOLIDARITY” in the reference so Ravi will know what the money is for!


An acquittal!

Some good news! Yesterday, Raj Kumar Aiyachami, who had been sentenced to death, was acquitted by the Court of Appeal. His co-accused, Ramadass Punnusamy, who had received a life sentence and 15 strokes of the cane, was also acquitted.

The story is pretty amazing: they were arrested in September 2015 after Ramadass had delivered a bag containing 1.8kg of cannabis to Raj. Raj, as it turned out, hadn't been expecting cannabis, but a chemically-sprayed tobacco known as "Butterfly". As chance would have it, while in prison, Raj met Mark, and while they were chatting, it was discovered that Mark had also been at the same location on the day of the arrest, and that he had been expecting a delivery of cannabis, only to receive "Butterfly".

So Mark testified in court, only the trial judge at the High Court didn't believe him, saying that Mark and Raj had "more than ample opportunity to collude and manufacture the story that Mark spun in court." But the Court of Appeal said that, without an actual finding of collusion, Mark's testimony shouldn't have been rejected. They also noted that by testifying, Mark was implicating himself in a very serious offence that he hadn't actually been on the hook for — why would he agree to plot with Raj to do something like that?

What an absolute relief for Raj, although we don't know what's next for these cases. What freaks me out, though, is how easily things could have turned out very, very differently. Imagine if he hadn't met Mark in prison!


Poultry, a luxury we cannot afford

This wouldn't usually really make the newsletter, but everyone I know is talking about it and I really like chicken rice so it's a big deal... Malaysia is curbing exports of chicken due to their own domestic issues with supply and cost, and Singaporeans have been buying up fresh chicken as if we're never going to be able to eat again. In 2021, Malaysia supplied 34% of our chicken imports. We actually get a lot of frozen chicken from Brazil, which I hadn't known before!

Anyway, suppliers have said that they'll have a hard time pivoting to other sources quickly, especially those who deal in fresh/chilled chicken. In this case, costs will likely go up, since businesses using fresh/chilled chicken will probably have to turn to frozen chicken, thus increasing demand for that limited supply... 🥺


Got some more...

🖊 If you're a Singaporean living overseas, listen up! Signatures are being collected for an open letter to the Singapore government, calling on them to halt executions. Please add your name.

👩🏻‍⚖️ A deputy director at the National Library Board has been convicted under the Official Secrets Act and jailed for four weeks because he leaked information about Phase 2 reopening in 2020. Jeez.

🧃 Two wholesalers have been charged for doing business with North Korea after Singapore suspended all trade ties with the country to comply with UN sanctions. They exported alcohol and, of all things, Pokka drinks like Pokka Melon Milk.


Thank you for reading this week! As always, please help me spread the word about this newsletter by sharing it widely.

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Kirsten Han Twitter

A Singaporean independent journalist, activist, and cat slave.