CHINA —A former S-League coach from Singapore was previously convicted of drug trafficking in Guangzhou, China, and initially sentenced to death. However, the sentence was later reduced to 15 years imprisonment.
Recently, he suffered a heart attack in prison and briefly fell into a coma. His sister is worried that he may die in a foreign land and hopes that the China authorities will allow him to be repatriated.
Kunju Jamaludeen, 66 years old, had served as a coach for multiple teams in the Singapore professional football league and was a certified coach of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
He held an AFC A-Level Certificate and was also qualified as an instructor for the B-Level and C-Level courses, having conducted courses in Singapore, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Taiwan.
On July 4, 2014, at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, while attempting to fly back to Singapore, local customs officials discovered crystal methamphetamine hidden in his luggage.
In April of the following year, after undergoing interrogation, Mr. Jamaludeen was convicted of drug trafficking and initially faced the death penalty by the local court. However, his sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment and ultimately reduced to 15 years.
Mr. Jamaludeen’s sister, Haseenah Koyakutty, shared news about her brother’s critical condition on Twitter last Saturday (8 Jul). She revealed that he suffered a heart attack after undergoing hip replacement surgery on 6 July.
On Tuesday (11 Jul), Haseenah expressed their family’s gratitude to the Singapore consulate personnel who visited her brother and learned that Mr Jamaludeen was apparently “conscious & able to communicate coherently”, although he still required another heart operation.
NEW: My stage 4 ill brother, Jamal, former @FASingapore coach, who’s been languishing in China’s Dongguan Prison is in critical condition after a heart attack. @MFAsgConsular has just contacted his daughter with limited information. My family has NOT seen Jamal since Covid19. 🙏🏽
— Haseenah Koyakutty (@HaseenahKoya) July 8, 2023
According to Singapore Chinese media outlet Lianhe Zaobao, Haseenah had been regularly visiting her brother in China since his imprisonment. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s border closures, her last visit to her brother was in October 2019.
Ms Haseenah mentioned that her brother’s health is fragile, as he not only suffers from heart problems but also has spinal issues. Since his imprisonment, he has been diagnosed with end-stage avascular necrosis of the hip, which severely hinders his ability to walk.
Currently, Haseenah and her family are awaiting clearance for their China visas, hoping to travel to Dongguan as soon as possible to visit him.
She mentioned that their 87-year-old mother is frail and ill, and she hopes to see her son in her lifetime.
“My brother’s condition is critical, and we are worried that he may leave us at any time. We hope the authorities will allow him to be repatriated.”
In addition to the aforementioned case, Mr. Jamaludeen was involved in bribery incidents between February and June 2011 in Singapore.
He demanded a total of S$ 5,000 from four trainees and attempted to extort at least S$ 30,500 from five others as a reward for helping them obtain the AFC C-Level course certificate.
During that time, he claimed to have experienced business failures and the need to sell his apartment to repay debts. He had planned to pursue opportunities in China but lacked the funds to purchase a plane ticket.
Consequently, he decided to borrow money from the students. In March 2013, after admitting to four counts of bribery and five counts of attempted bribery, he was sentenced to three months in prison.