Execution of Malaysian drug trafficker: Singapore says it has sovereign right to use death penalty

Execution of Malaysian drug trafficker: Singapore says it has sovereign right to use death penalty

changi prison
File photo of Changi Prison. (File photo: TODAY)

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Friday (Nov 22) underlined its sovereign right to use the death penalty against drug offenders and said that it expects other countries to respect its laws, in response to comments by a Malaysian minister over the execution of a citizen in Singapore.

"Singapore’s laws apply equally to all, regardless whether the offender is Singaporean or foreign," the Ministry of Law and Ministry of Home Affairs said in a joint statement.

"Foreigners who choose to break our laws must be prepared to be subject to them and cannot expect any differentiated treatment," they added.

READ: Clemency petitions for Malaysian on death row 'carefully considered': MHA

Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law) Liew Vui Keong on Wednesday urged Singapore to show mercy ahead of the execution of convicted Malaysian drug trafficker Abd Helmi Ab Halim, saying that it was "unjust and disproportionate for drug mules to bear the fate of the gallows", according to Bernama.

Mr Liew also said that Malaysia imposes a strict moratorium on all executions for drug trafficking offences pending comprehensive review, in line with established international standards.

READ: Malaysia to keep death penalty, but no longer mandatory

"It is therefore heart-wrenching to see a fellow citizen to be executed for circumstances entirely uncompelling, given the close proximity of our countries," he was quoted as saying.


Abd Helmi was sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in 2017 after he was caught trafficking 16.56g of diamorphine, or pure heroin.

The amount of diamorphine Abd Helmi trafficked was equivalent to about 1,380 straws of heroin, enough to feed the addiction of close to 200 abusers for a week, said the two Singapore ministries.

Abd Helmi was executed at Changi Prison Complex on Friday, after an unsuccessful petition to Singapore's President for clemency. 

He was accorded full due process under the law, and was represented by legal counsel throughout the process, the ministries said.


The ministries noted in their statement that Malaysia had, in a previous statement on a similar case, said it respected the rule of law and due process of Singapore.

READ: Malaysian minister denies interfering with Singapore court case on death row inmate

"The use of capital punishment is an issue that every country has the sovereign right to decide for itself, taking into account its own circumstances and in accordance with its international law obligations," they said, adding that "there is no international consensus" on the use of the death penalty.

They also said that the death penalty is an important component of Singapore’s anti-drug strategy, and has proven to be an effective deterrent when combined with other measures.

READ: 'Not tenable' for Singapore to go easy on Malaysian drug offenders: Shanmugam

"Singapore is one of the few countries in the world where the drug menace has been contained. Singapore respects the sovereign right of other countries to determine their own legal systems, and expects the same in return," they said.

Malaysia, they said, can help in the fight against drugs by "aggressively rooting out the drug kingpins in Malaysia who send drug traffickers from Malaysia to Singapore”.

Malaysia can also take “serious steps" to prevent people from being recruited for drug trafficking, the ministries said.

“In this way, Malaysia can do more to help save the lives of Malaysians who would otherwise become drug traffickers, trafficking drugs into Singapore. Such drug traffickers, by peddling drugs, bring death and misery, and destroy thousands of lives in Singapore."

Source: CNA/nr(aj)