Singapore conducted an execution earlier today of a man who was only 33 years old.
This man's name was Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, a Malaysian national of Indian descent from the City of Ipoh, the capital of the State of Perak.
Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam was arrested at the age of 21 years old, after he claims he unknowingly transported 42.72 grams of diamorphine into Singapore from the bordering city of Johor Bahru, the capital of the Johor State in Malaysia.
Since his arrest, we have learned many things that make this execution very controversial to the point that many people have protested this execution and asked for the President of Singapore, Halimah Yacob, to spare Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam's life via clemency. Some of these have been quite famous people like Stephen Fry, Richard Branson
, and the current Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) of Malaysia and Sultan of Pahang, Abdullah of Pahang
. Other notable people and groups to protest have been the UN Special Rapporteurs to Singapore and the EU Delegation to Singapore, in addition to many others.
With this lack of perception, and given the facts of the case, many people in favor of capital punishment have even questioned this decision to execute Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam.
In fact, the case gets even worse considering that under both international and Singapore's domestic law, Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam's case met the threshold to be transferred to Malaysia, which Abdullah of Pahang, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and the Government of Malaysia sought.
The Catholic Church of Singapore is run by the Archdiocese of Singapore and has stood against the death penalty, but also for the Republic of Singapore. It must be noted that Singapore continues to have a very well-run country that is extremely safe, with high living standards. This is why the Archdiocese of Singapore respects the Republic's rules, even if it disagrees and advocates for the ending to the death penalty. In a region full of drug smuggling, any way to decrease this illicit trade could save many more lives than a single person dying. So, there are multiple layers to this story, but nonetheless, the Catholic Church is clear that the death penalty is morally wrong, and the fact that prisons are supposed to rehabilitate people to the point that they no longer wish to commit crimes and so that they are proponents of good, is another reason why the Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam case is so troubling because it appears he never wished to commit this crime in the first place, was unaware he would be committing a crime, was coerced into committing this crime, and surely would never commit this crime again after his stay in prison that saw him evade death multiple times.
There have been many calls to change Singapore's laws to only allow for life-imprisonment in these situations. In fact, there was a previous moratorium allowing this that delayed Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam's execution.
Singapore should be applauded for being a great country and of course are with many awards and lots of praise, and thus maybe a compromise can be made to push for this life-imprisonment option instead to continue Singapore's fight against the drug trade. This would preserve Singapore's strict punishments, but eliminate the death element to their justice system.