The Singapore Prison Service (SPS)’s statement on 31-year-old Malaysian death row prisoner Pannir Selvam Pranthaman’s letters last Fri (23 Aug) was “blatantly false”, said his Malaysian instructing solicitor N Surendran.
The legal advisor for Malaysian human rights and law reform organisation Lawyers For Liberty (LFL), in a statement on Sat (24 Aug), stressed that contrary to SPS’s claim, all of the letters were written by Pannir himself in Changi Prison, and Pannir’s family have even kept handwritten copies of said letters.
“Further, the copies of Pannir’s handwritten letters were also put up in the official website to save Pannir,” Surendran noted, adding that “anyone can see by looking at the copies on the website that Pannir did write the letters”.
“It was highly irresponsible of Singapore to make such a serious accusation, without even checking the material on the website or properly probing the matter,” Surendran charged.
SPS’ statement, the lawyer alleged, “has only increased the anguish and suffering” of Pannir’s family “who are desperately trying to save Pannir’s life by engaging public support for their cause”.
The “wild claim” made by SPS, Surendran alleged, is part of the Singapore government’s effort “to intimidate and shut down the public campaign for Pannir in Malaysia and worldwide”.
“Singapore’s conduct shows that it wants to hang this Malaysian citizen quietly in the near future, and does not want public attention drawn to his case,” he added.
Surendran also charged that Pannir might have been threatened or pressured into allegedly telling SPS that he did not write the letters.
“Singapore Prison Services has also claimed that Pannir has told them that he did not write the letters. Why would he do that when in fact he did write them and copies of his handwritten versions exist?
“Obviously, he would only have done so if he had been subjected to threats or other unlawful means of compulsion by the Singapore authorities,” he said, adding that following these developments, LFL is “now deeply concerned for Pannir’s safety and well-being” in Changi Prison.
“It is cruel and unacceptable to use the might of the state of Singapore to oppress and silence a helpless death row prisoner. In these circumstances, can Pannir expect fair treatment from Singapore in his ongoing legal battles against his death sentence?” Surendran questioned.
Surendran, in his statement, called upon the Singapore government to do the following:
- To come clean about what has allegedly been done to “force Pannir to deny that he wrote those letters”;
- To ensure that Pannir remains safe in SPS’ custody, and;
- To give public reassurance to Pannir’s family and the Malaysian government that Singapore will stop its efforts to silence Pannir and the ‘Save Pannir’ campaign.
Additionally, LFL also urged the Malaysian government to intervene in this matter, as it “involves the safety of a Malaysian citizen abroad”.
Pannir Selvam did not write “articles”; such “articles” part of “orchestrated campaign” to pressure S’pore govt on death penalty: Singapore Prison Service
SPS on Fri alleged that Pannir had told the Service that he did not write the so-called “articles”, and that the “articles” were actually “written in Pannir’s name” using first-person pronouns “by someone else”.
“This appears to be part of an orchestrated campaign to put pressure on the Singapore Government,” said SPS.
SPS added that it will further investigate the issue.
Pannir was convicted of trafficking 51.84g of heroin into Singapore two years ago.
In his letters, one of which was published as recently as 15 Aug, Pannir narrated his experiences and reflections as a death row prisoner in Changi Prison.