Malaysia’s de facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong rebuts allegations regarding his “interference” in Singapore’s judicial system

Malaysia’s de facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong has rejected allegations regarding his role in the Singapore Court of Appeal’s decision to stay 31-year-old Malaysian drug mule Pannir Selvam Pranthaman’s execution on Thu (23 May).

The Star Online reported Liew as saying on Mon (27 May) that the claim made by “a certain quarter” in the Republic regarding his interference in Singapore’s judicial system “is totally unfounded and baseless”, adding that “it’s purely a figment of someone’s imagination”.

He confirmed that he had spoken to Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong last Wed with the “blessings” of Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.

“As time was pressing, I sought our Foreign Minister’s blessings to communicate with the Singapore government and to write an email to them where I made a representation based on valid legal grounds,” Liew said.

Previously on Fri (24 May), Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam told The Straits Times that Liew had reached out to Tong, in addition to writing in to the Singapore Government over Pannir Selvam’s case.

He said that while he acknowledges that some ministers in the Pakatan Harapan government are “ideologically opposed” to the death penalty, Singapore remains steadfast with its decision to continue imposing the death penalty on persons found guilty of drug trafficking, and thus expects Malaysia to “respect that condition as well.”

“It is not tenable to give a special moratorium to Malaysians, and impose it on everyone else, including Singaporeans who commit offences which carry the death penalty,” said Shanmugam, adding that the Government will not “be deflected from doing the right thing for Singapore” and its population, whom he believes “is supportive of that stand.”

“It is simply not doable to keep asking Singapore not to carry out the penalties imposed by the courts,” he said, adding that the Singapore Government “will respond to Liew once the case is over”.

Shanmugam’s remark was heavily criticised by Malaysian lawyer and founder of human rights and law reform organisation Lawyers For Liberty (LFL) N Surendran, who had branded the former’s alleged “attack” on Liew as “arrogant & unbecoming” of a senior minister.