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Locking down the already locked up

Kirsten Han
Kirsten Han
4 min read

Milo Peng Funders keep this newsletter running, as well as supporting my other independent writing and civil society work, so please become one if you can! You can also tip me on my Ko-Fi page.


🚨 LOBANG ALERT! 🚨

It was my birthday on Thursday, and Ghost has now rolled out the Offers function, so I decided to set up discounts and try to get some new Milo Peng Funders on board.

From now until the end of the month, I’m taking 20% off the first three months of a monthly subscription (i.e. you’ll pay US$4/month for the first three months), or 20% the entire annual subscription (i.e. US$40/year for the first year).

If you’ve been mulling over becoming a Milo Peng Funder, then this is a good time. I’d also really appreciate it if you could share this around with your friends/family/networks! 🙏🏼


Nagaenthran and Covid-19 in the prison

I've been thanking all sorts of lucky stars that there was no execution this week. If you haven’t caught up yet: Nagen got a reprieve just one day before his scheduled hanging, because he’d tested positive for Covid-19. The Court of Appeal judges then decided to adjourn his appeal hearing until a later date, which means the stay of execution he'd received from the High Court is still in effect. I rounded this up in a special issue that I sent out on Tuesday, but we’ve got a little bit more detail since.

The prison said that they’d given Nagen both an ART and a PCR test on Monday. The ART came out negative, so they brought him to court in person for his appeal hearing on Tuesday. But while he was in court, the results of the PCR test came back positive, so they had to take him away to be isolated. Nagen is not vaccinated, but the prison says he is “well and asymptomatic”.

As it turns out, Nagen is not the only prisoner with Covid. In fact, there are 169 cases of Covid in Changi Prison Complex. Right now, 169 inmates, 54 supervisees and nine prison staff have tested positive for Covid-19. This includes 116 people in Institution A1 in Cluster A of the prison complex, with death row inmates among them. Institution A1 is now on lockdown. Face-to-face visits between death row inmates and their families have been suspended.

We still don’t know what’s going to happen with Nagen’s case. Once he’s recovered from Covid-19, the state is going to restart its process of killing him. But at this stage, we don’t know when the appeal hearing will be fixed; all we know is that we have to make the most of the time that we have to keep the #SaveNagaenthran campaign going. Check out the section lower down in this issue for some things that you can do.


Terry and Daniel found guilty of criminal defamation

Terry Xu, chief editor of the now-offline The Online Citizen, and Daniel de Costa, who contributed a letter to the site, have both been found guilty of criminal defamation. This is over the letter that Daniel wrote, which mentioned “corruption at the highest echelons”.

Daniel has also been convicted under the Computer Misuse Act of accessing an email account not belonging to him without authorisation, which he used to send his writing to TOC.

Mitigation and sentencing will take place on 23 December.


Got some more…

Food security has worsened in Singapore during the pandemic. It's horrible that, in a country that's known to be so obsessed with food, there are people going hungry, but it's true: more families are struggling financially, to the point where they're skipping meals.

📱 The government’s strategy for Covid-19 contact-tracing has shifted away from the aggressive “blunderbuss” approach, and they are now focused on more targeted areas. So why is it that we still have to use TraceTogether everywhere we go? There are other ways to check one’s vaccination status without TraceTogether, but an update to the app suggests it’s sticking around.

💉 A member of the group Healing the Divide has filed a suit under the Protection from Harassment Act against Singapore Press Holdings for “making false statements of fact”. These are the statements they’re upset about: the headline of The Straits Times’ article, “Only fair to protect vulnerable in S’pore against Covid-19 spread by unvaccinated people” and a sentence in it that says “People who are not vaccinated face a much higher risk of getting infected and spreading the disease.” Right... I’m on SPH’s side on this one.


🎙 When we talk about the death penalty for drugs, people keep saying that it’s for the greater good, because “what about the victims and families affected by drug use?” We don’t often hear from drug users and couriers themselves. This evening, Ram, a father, mentor, and someone who has survived the prison system after being convicted of drug trafficking, will be sharing his experience in solidarity with #SaveNagaenthran on Facebook Live. Tune in here from 5pm–6:30pm.

🧑🏽‍⚕️ If you’re a social service professional, healthcare worker, counsellor, community and youth worker, or trainee (current/former), you can sign this letter to the President and Cabinet to appeal to them to grant clemency to Nagen.

🧑🏼‍🎨 If you’re a member of the arts community in Singapore — writers, artists, musicians, performers, etc. — there’s a solidarity letter for you to sign too. You can sign it here.

六 If you're a lawyer, there's a statement of solidarity for legal professionals too! Sign here.

✍🏼 If you haven’t signed the Change.org petition yet — it now has over 80,000 signatures! — please do so here. And share this petition widely!


Sharmila Rockey, the sister of Syed Suhail, poses for the press on Monday before she submits a solidarity letter signed by 237 loved ones of death row prisoners calling for clemency for Nagaenthran.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to forward this on to anyone you think might be interested. 🙏🏼 Once again, a reminder that becoming a Milo Peng Funder is an awesome thing to do! You can also make a one-off contribution via my Ko-Fi page.

Weekly Wraps

Kirsten Han Twitter

A Singaporean independent journalist, activist, and cat slave.