PUTRAJAYA: A Malaysian minister on Sunday (May 26) denied that he interfered with Singapore's decision to grant a stay of execution to a Malaysian citizen on death row.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong said that such allegations were "totally unfounded and baseless" and were "purely a figment of an imagination on someone's part".
His comments comes after Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said that it was "not tenable" for Singapore to go easy on Malaysian drug offenders who have been caught.
Mr Shanmugam had mentioned the case of Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, who was granted a stay of execution just a day before he was due to be executed.
The 31-year-old was found guilty of carrying 51.84g of heroin at Woodlands Checkpoint in 2014.
Mr Liew, who is also in charge of law and parliamentary affairs, said that he had spoken to Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Law on Wednesday regarding the case, as he was unable to speak to Mr Shanmugam, who was not available at that time.
With the blessings of Malaysia's foreign minister, Mr Liew said he had communicated with the Singapore government and wrote an email where he "made a representation based on valid legal grounds".
"The allegation that I have interfered with their judicial system is totally unfounded and baseless. It’s purely a figment of an imagination on someone’s part," said Mr Liew in the statement.
The Malaysian minister said he was issuing the statement to "avoid further confusion and unnecessary innuendos" as there had been serious allegations made against him "by a certain quarter across the causeway".
Singapore has received three requests from Malaysia to intervene in executions since the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government came into power a year ago, and two of these were drug traffickers, according to Mr Shanmugam.
Speaking at a seminar on Friday, Mr Shanmugam noted that there were some from PH who were "ideologically opposed" to the death penalty and that they "have to respect that position".
"At the same time, we do impose the death penalty in Singapore, and I expect that Malaysia will respect that position as well," he said.
"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," he added.
He also said that both sides should discuss how to tackle cross-border drug offences and "get to the root of the problem".
"We have good cooperation with Malaysian agencies; they do a good job, we cooperate effectively. And I hope they can be given every support, and we can get more evidence on the other kingpins operating in Malaysia to be picked up," Mr Shanmugam said.
I RESPECT DECISION OF SINGAPORE'S COURT: LIEW
Mr Liew said even though he had not read the grounds of the decision, it was obvious that the Singapore court made its decision after having considered the prevailing circumstances and the rule of law applicable to the case.
"It is therefore equally untenable to allege that there’s an interference on my part to their judicial process.
"I, and so is everyone of us here in Malaysia, respect the decision of the Singapore’s Court," Mr Liew said.
Pannir Selvam had applied for more time to file a fresh application to impugn the clemency process.
The inmate and his family was notified of the president's rejection of his clemency petition and the scheduled date of his execution in letters just a week in advance.
In an affidavit, Pannir Selvam had questioned the transparency of the clemency process, saying he was "surprised" the letter from the Istana about the clemency rejection and the letter from Singapore Prison Service informing him of his execution were both dated May 17.
Pannir was represented by lawyers Too Xing Ji and Lee Ji En who came forward on the hearing date itself, after learning about the case the night before.