Singapore lawyers ordered to pay S$10,000 over ethnic bias suit by Malay death row inmates | MalaysiaNow


This is the latest in a series of legal actions seen by critics as a move to intimidate lawyers challenging the city-state’s narrative on capital punishment.

Our Regional Correspondent

May 12, 2022 5:54 PM

A Singapore court has ordered two lawyers to pay S$10,000 (RM31,500) in personal costs to the attorney-general over an ethnic discrimination suit filed by 17 Malay death row convicts, in what is seen as the latest in a series of legal actions against rights lawyers challenging the city-state’s stand on capital punishment.

Prominent lawyer M Ravi and Cheng Kim Kuan had filed a summons on behalf of 17 prisoners in Singapore sentenced to death for various drug offences, seeking a declaration that the government had acted with discrimination and bias in their prosecution due to their Malay ethnicity.

In their suit filed last year, the convicts, all Singaporeans with the exception of one Malaysian, named the attorney-general as the defendant, accusing him of breaching a constitutional guarantee on equal treatment under the law.

They said the investigations, as well their trials and convictions under the draconian Misuse of Drugs Act, had been arbitrary and based on the “irrelevant factor of our ethnicity”.

The suit was however dismissed by the High Court in December last year, which called it an abuse of the court process, logically flawed and speculative.

The attorney-general subsequently filed a suit seeking costs from Ravi and Cheng, saying the suit was filed by the duo without his consent and that it was therefore “wrongly commenced”.

In their affidavit sighted by MalaysiaNow last year, they said that Malays sentenced to death were “significantly overrepresented” compared to their share in the population of Singapore.

It also noted that 50 out of 77 people sentenced to death between 2010 and 2021 were Malays, 15 Indians, 10 Chinese and two from other races.

They further said that out of the 28 who had had their death sentences commuted, 12 were Chinese and nine were Malays.

Some 90% of those currently on death row in Singapore are ethnic Malays and Indians, whose communities combined make up just over 20% of the population.

Malays make up 13.5% of the population in the city-state, where 74.3% are Chinese and 9% are Indians, based on official statistics up to June 2020.

Singapore does not release official numbers on its death row prisoners.


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