We, The Citizens is a newsletter covering Singapore with a focus on politics, democracy, human rights, and social justice. These weekly wraps are free to access—feel free to forward them on to anyone you like!
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Thanks for your patience while I went on holiday last week! I had a great rest doing very little apart from cross-stitch (you can see my first completed piece at the end of this issue) and watching the Chinese web drama Guardian, which I wrote about over at the secondary newsletter. Now I'm back to work, and the newsletter back to its regular schedule.
An execution scheduled for 10 November
After over a year — almost close to two — without any hangings in Singapore, the authorities are looking to resume executions next month.
In a letter dated 26 October, the Singapore Prison Service informed the family of Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam that they will carry out his death sentence on 10 November.
Naga was arrested on 22 April 2009 at the age of 21, and later charged with importing 42.72g of diamorphine. He was sentenced to death in November 2010, and has spent over a decade on death row.
During interrogation with the police, Naga had admitted to knowing that the bundle he was carrying contained diamorphine, and that a friend named “King” had strapped it to his thigh so it could better escape detection. During the trial, Naga denied knowledge of the contents of the bundle, saying that he had been threatened to deliver the bundle for “King”. This defence was rejected by the judge.
According to Dr Ung Eng Khean, a psychiatrist in private practice, Naga suffered from “an abnormality of mind at the time of his arrest, namely: Severe Alcohol Use Disorder, Severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Combined Type and Borderline Intellectual Functioning/Mild Intellectual Disability”. However, Dr Ung’s evidence was rejected by the judge.
Three of the State’s experts were of the opinion that Naga does not suffer from an intellectual disability, but they did agree that he has borderline intellectual functioning. He was found to have an IQ score of 69, mild ADHD of the inattentive type, and also that his executive functioning skills (including verbal fluency, set-shifting, abstract reasoning, strategy formation, and problem solving) were impaired. This evidence was accepted by the Court. However, the Court was of the opinion that his borderline intellectual functioning and impairments were insufficient to conclude that Naga had suffered from abnormality of the mind for the purposes of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Naga has since exhausted all his appeals, including his appeal to the president for clemency, which is why the authorities have scheduled his execution. His family live in Malaysia, which means that, on top of the distress over the looming execution, they have to navigate all the Covid-19 regulations in both countries to come to Singapore to see him for what will most likely be the last time. It's a logistical nightmare: family members have to rush to apply for leave from work at short notice and work out who can come and when, figure out when to take PCR tests, apply for entry approval and make health declarations, find SHN accommodation, arrange SHN-approved transport, and even have funeral arrangements ready in case the worst happens.
This is triggering all sorts of costs that they weren't prepared for, which is why the Transformative Justice Collective and I are helping them fundraise to cover these expenses. Here is a back-of-the-envelope calculation I did of what we need:
If you would like to contribute, you can make a PayNow transfer to the UEN 201025212ETJ8 — please remember to indicate in the reference that the money is for Nagaenthran and his family, otherwise we won't be able to distinguish your contribution from other donations to TJC's general operations! If you don't use PayNow, you can donate online here.
Given that the situation has a lot of moving parts, it is likely that the cost could change and be quite different from what's been predicted. If we end up raising more than we need, the excess funds will be directed towards TJC's support fund, which is used to help people who have been incarcerated (especially those on death row) and their families. Unfortunately, there might be more families like Nagaenthran's who might need similar help in the future.
Keep f*cking it up…
The police announced this past week that they will charge rapper Subhas Nair for attempting to promote ill-will between groups on the grounds of race and religion (this is likely under Section 298A of the Penal Code). They're taking issue with comments that he'd made on social media, and because they say that he breached the conditions of the conditional warning he'd received previously, they're charging him for that rap video calling out racism and the use of brownface in an ad campaign.
"Allegations that the law or law enforcement agencies accord differential treatment based on religion or race are baseless and have the potential to damage religious and racial harmony in Singapore and erode public trust in our law enforcement agencies," said the police about one of the comments Subhas had made online. Which kind of makes it sound like they're more upset by the suggestion that there might be some racial bias in policing...
13 bus drivers have taken their employer, SBS Transit, to court over the issue of payments and working conditions. As the WorkersMakePossible website puts it: "The case asks important questions, like how many consecutive days workers can be made to work without rest, whether overtime can be mandated, and how overtime pay is calculated. Crucially, it also asks if the Employment Act allows for some labour protections to be overridden in the case of essential workers."
The bus drivers need to raise a substantial amount of money — $110,000 — to cover the legal costs of this lawsuit. You can contribute here.
Got some more…
😱 This story gives us a very, very grim view of how the National University of Singapore handles reports of sexual assault. And this is supposed to be after they've brought in reforms.
✊🏼 Kokila Annamali wrote for Al Jazeera English about how the Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act will weaken people power in Singapore.
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