Singapore on Wednesday executed a mentally disabled Malaysian Tamil Hindu man convicted for a drug offense after a court dismissed a last-minute challenge from his mother and international pleas to spare him. Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 34, had been on death row for over a decade after he was convicted of trafficking about 43 grams (1.5 oz) of heroin into Singapore in 2009.
Nagenthran’s supporters and lawyers said he had an IQ of 69 and was intellectually disabled, and that the execution of a mentally ill person was prohibited under international human rights law.
“Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s name will go down in history as the victim of a tragic miscarriage of justice. Hanging an intellectually disabled, mentally unwell man because he was coerced into carrying less than three tablespoons of diamorphine is unjustifiable and a flagrant violation of international laws that Singapore has chosen to sign up to,” said Maya Foa, director of non-governmental organization Reprieve.
His family said Nagenthran’s body will be brought to their hometown in Malaysia’s northern state of Perak, where they have made preparations for his funeral. Nagaenthran was the second of four siblings, and his sister Sarmila described him as a loving person who took odd jobs during high school to help out the family. He was reportedly forced to traffic drugs after being threatened by a man who had loaned him some money for his father’s heart operation.
Anyone found with over 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of heroin faces the death sentence in Singapore, although judges can reduce this to life in prison at their discretion. Attempts to reduce Nagaenthran’s sentence or obtain a presidential pardon failed. Malaysia’s government and various human rights bodies had called for Nagaenthran’s life to be spared, to no avail.
Singapore law and the unsparing attitude of it legal system stands in stark contrast to Bharat. Just for comparison, while Nagenthran was executed for possession of 43 grams of heroin, authorities in Bharat seized 13 grams of cocaine, 21 grams of charas, 22 pills of MDMA, 5 grams of MD from the raid last year on the cruise ship in which Shahrukh Khan’s son too was nabbed. Most high-profile arrests from that raid and other raids carried out by NCB in that period are already out on bail, and the Maharashtra govt. instead turned on the police officer who was heading that anti-drug drive.
Executing a young man like Nagaenthran for a first-time drug offense committed when he was just 20 will sound harsh to any impartial observer. But defenders of Singapore’s actions will say that the self-respecting country has been consistent in its application of its draconian anti-drug laws, and this is how it has built up its reputation as an efficient, no-nonsense city-state that attracts talent and businesses from all over the world.
Not many know that Singapore is a a de facto one-party state, and has an authoritarian system where the Opposition and media face tight controls. But Singaporeans have chosen this system and are happy with the trade-offs it demands of them. And who can argue that Singapore enjoys a very good image across the world?
Self-confident Singapore versus self-alienated India
Contrast Nagaenthran’s execution with a recent shocking decision by India’s Supreme Court (SC) which commuted the death sentence awarded to Mohd. Firoz for the brutal rape and murder of a 4-year-old girl, and sentenced him to serve just 20 years for the depraved crime.
The case dates back to April 2013 and took place in Ghansore, district Seoni, Madhya Pradesh. Firoz was sentenced to death in October of that same year by a trial court. The Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed his appeal and confirmed the death sentence. But 9 long years later, justice was cruelly denied to the victim and her family by the SC.
To rub salt into wounds, the SC bench of Justices UU Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi talked about ‘repairing the crippled psyche of the offender’, ‘balancing the scales of retributive justice and restorative justice’, and quoted the Irish playwright Oscar Wilde view’s on sinners and saints – as cruel an irony as any, seeing that Wilde himself was a paedophile and sex tourist.
What good is such pretentious, bleeding-heart rhetoric to the parents whose child was brutally raped, murdered and snatched away from them? Is this justice? Or is it a sign of a mentally colonized State apparatus suffering from an inferiority complex, seeking validation from Western left-liberal elites?
Time and again, the Indian judiciary has shown that it places a high premium on liberal sensitivities and its image in the Anglosphere. The needs, expectations and aspirations of the ordinary citizen are treated with barely disguised contempt, dismissed as ‘majoritarian views, popular morality’. Whether it is protests by aggressive vested interests that are allowed to cripple the national capital for one whole year, or gory post-poll violence in a truly fascist Opposition-ruled state, or a stand-up comic riding roughshod over the majority religion, our courts have left no doubt on where their contorted priorities lie.
Yet, the same global left-liberal class today classifies Bharat (India) as an ‘authoritarian/fascist’ state. Western NGOs declare that ‘Indian democracy is backsliding, civil liberties are under threat, the state is oppressing minorities’…and what not. The country’s former RBI governor has just issued a veiled threat that our economy will suffer due to the ‘anti-minority’ tag.
It’s a nice racket – first, invent this image of a fascist State, then threaten ordinary citizens that the said image will hurt them on the world stage.
The lesson for Bharat is clear. We need to learn from Singapore and do what is best for us and our citizens. A self-hating country where the elites are constantly seeking validation from the rest of the world, will continue to fail its people. Bharat’s colonised elites are failing the country, both morally and materially. It is time that the democratically elected government made full use of the power vested in it and clean the rot that has spread into vital organs of the State.