As you puff your daily joint, don’t forget that the drug war continues to rage outside of the Western world. On Tuesday, July 26 in Singapore, a 49-year-old Singaporean Malay man charged with selling cannabis is believed to have been hanged at the Changi Prison Complex, according to writer and activist Kokila Annamalai. Singaporean Malay's are a local ethnic group in Singapore recognized as the indigenous people of the country.
According to Annamalai, this is the sixth death by hanging for drug offenses in less than four months. Malaysian outlet Malaysia Now confirms those numbers.
The name of the man has yet to be released. What we do know about him, however, is that he was convicted of trafficking cannabis and sentenced to death in 2015. He’s been locked up in prison since. Annamalai explains in a tweet that the man was one of 17 prisoners in a historic lawsuit alleging that capital punishment in Singapore is fueled by racial bias. The Singaporean government didn’t take well to the suit.
“He was one of 17 prisoners who had filed a historic suit accusing the Singapore state of racial bias in their prosecutions in capital punishment cases,” Annamalai said. “The suit was thrown out last year and their lawyer M Ravi was slapped with heavy fines after being accused of abuse of process by the attorney-general (AG).”
We have confirmation that a 49 year-old Singaporean Malay man was executed today, 26 July, at Changi Prison. He has lived in prison since 2015, after being convicted of trafficking in cannabis (marijuana). He was sentenced to the mandatory death penalty.— Kokila Annamalai (@Kokilaparvathi) July 26, 2022
Malaysia Now reports that two of the 17 prisoners have already died by hanging. The man who was executed before Tuesday's killing was Nazeri Lajim, a 64-year-old Singaporean who had been addicted to drugs since the age of 14 — he was the prisoner who was executed last Friday. Lajim was caught in 2012 with 33.39 grams of heroin, an amount he says was for personal consumption.
A day before his execution, Nazeri made a desperate final appeal to judges for more time to say farewell to his family members, Malaysia Now reports. He was told by the court that he would hang as scheduled the following morning.
One of the more disturbing details about the death penalty at Changi Prison is that prisoners in their final days are “made to sit through a bizarre photo session where they are told to smile for the camera while wearing their favorite clothes.” If that’s not psychological warfare designed to rip prisoners' last bit of dignity from them, then we don’t know what is.
An increasing number of Singaporeans appear to be against the death penalty, particularly for drug offenders. A number of protests have even been held to abolish the death penalty in the country. While Southeast Asian countries are notorious for their brutal drug laws, the region is slowly beginning to shift. Thailand has officially decriminalized cannabis, and it’s becoming Southeast Asia’s green oasis. Hopefully, other nearby countries will follow suit ASAP.
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