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A call-out for information about (imminent) executions

Issue 64

Later today I’ll be speaking on a panel at SingLit Station alongside Ruby Thiagarajan of Mynah Magazine and Grace Yeoh of RICE Media about journalism, our work, and works in progress. If you don’t have plans for your Saturday yet, come join us.

I’ll also be at a panel at Tropika, talking about protests in Asia, in August.

And last but not least, I’ve written an explainer of sorts about the elections for Lowy Institute.

In danger of imminent execution

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been hearing some really disturbing news. The word is that multiple death row inmates in Changi Prison have been receiving clemency rejections. As far as I’ve heard these inmates have not been given dates of execution, but getting their clemency pleas rejected means that the prison can schedule their executions any time.

I’ve been trying to confirm this, but it can be really hard to verify information when death row inmates and their families might only know one another by nicknames, or when there aren’t really many other sources I can cross-check with. In a statement issued on 12 July, the Malaysian human rights organisation Lawyers for Liberty said that up to 10 inmates—a mix of Malaysians and Singaporeans—have had their petitions for clemency rejected. And while the Ministry of Home Affairs has responded to LfL’s statement by saying that Singapore’s laws apply to all and Malaysians aren’t being targeted, it’s worth noting that they don’t seem to have said anything about the clemency petitions. Does this mean that LfL was right about (or perhaps even understating) the number of clemency rejections? I wrote in to the Singapore Prison Service on 14 July to clarify (and sent a chaser on 19 July) but haven’t received a response.

If anyone has any information or a way to verify the numbers, please hit reply to this newsletter and get in touch!

Meanwhile, the spat between LfL and the Singaporean government continues: the organisation says that the Attorney General’s Chambers made comments about Pannir Selvam’s Malaysian lawyer, N Surendran, that seemed like a threat: in a letter to the High Court, the AGC said Surendran had made “scandalous allegations against Singapore and its legal system, including accusing Singapore of acting in total disregard of international legal norms and decent world opinion”. They point to Singapore’s track record of charging critics with contempt of court or criminal defamation, and are insisting that the AGC withdraws its comments. The AGC denies having sent any threatening letters to Surendran, which is kind of a red herring since LfL never said that they’d sent a letter to Surendran.

Fact-checking ministers

A Straits Times Forum letter-writer has taken issue with figures presented by Transport Minister Khan Boon Wan. Khaw had argued that the cost of public transport needs to go up due to the cost of operating the MRT system, saying that both SMRT and SBS’ rail divisions were losing money.

But Khaw isn’t the only one being called out this week. Harm Reduction International has also taken issue with claims that Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has made about drugs and drug policy. (I posted this on Facebook and it didn’t take very long for the pro-PAP commentators to accuse me of wanting to undermine Singapore’s safety and expose people to drug crime, or, even more hysterically, suggest I start doing heroin myself to prove something or other. 🙄)

Here’s the AGO’s report

The AGO report is out for the past financial year and it’s flagged lapses in ministries and government agencies in terms of areas like IT controls, contract management and procurement, and the management of social grant programmes. Primary sources are always handy, so if you have some time, take a look at the actual report itself.

About the neighbours…

This week on New Naratif we published a couple of pieces on feminism. All I can say is that transnational feminist nuns who fight against martial law and dictatorship are pretty fierce.