Letters of appeal for Shanmugam

20 April 2005

Dear President of The Republic of Singapore,

I am writing this letter as a concerned citizen of Singapore, requesting your Excellency to pardon Shanmugam S/O Murugesu; and lift the death sentence that the High Court has meted on him.

There are many reasons why Shanmugam deserves a second chance.

1. Shanmugan has contributed to Singapore society as a responsible citizen. He served in the Singapore Armed Forces for 8 years and was also in the Singapore Sports Council for another 4 years. During this period, he represented Singapore in water sports events even on an international level: World Championship Jetski Finals in Lake Havasu, Arizona, USA in 1995. His records of being a model citizen will hopefully win your sympathy.

2. Various campaigns have been launched over the years to promote Singapore as a caring, inclusive and forgiving society. The most recent, being the Yellow Ribbon Project, whose three main aims are: Create Awareness of giving second chances to ex-offenders, generate acceptance of ex-offenders and their families into the community, and inspire community action to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders.

If the President will pardon Shanmugan, this will send a clear signal to Singaporeans and the international community that we give our ex-offenders a second chance of rejoining the community. Shanmugan has submitted a plea of clemency, clearly indicating his repentance and desire to reform if he is given an opportunity.

3. Shanmugan was driven by desperate circumstances to possess drugs. As a sole breadwinner of his family, he had to financially support his two sons, niece, nephew and an ageing mother. This is a mitigating factor which I hope the President can consider seriously.

4. As regards to the above factor, if Shanmugan were to be sentenced to death as decided by the High Court, this will be an enormous and detrimental loss to the family and society. We have to consider the utmost pain and loss that the family members will suffer. Without any support and the love of the father, I worry immensely about the financial, emotional and psychological well being of the kids and his mother. Shanmugans growing teenage sons and sick mother deserve a father and son who can provide for them in any possible way. Various societal organizations will need to come to the aid of the family to prevent the family from plunging into further distress and poverty.

5. Various precedent cases of offenders who carry more drugs into Singapore have been pardoned.

6. This is indirectly related to Shanmugan. As a firm believer of abolishing the death penalty, I hope the President can reconsider the reasons why the death penalty is not an effective sentence against the offender.

First, the death penalty is one of the most basic violation against human rights. This is clearly stated in United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Both the UN and European Union, has made clear positions on the death penalty issue.

Second, studies have been done which fails to find a link in proving that the death sentence is effective in crime deterrence.

Third, over half the countries in the world have abolished it in law or practice.

Global recognition of abolishing the death sentence has become one of the benchmarks on which countries are judged based on their human rights records. If Singapore wants to become a contemporary society on par with other societies in terms of respecting human
rights, we need to abolish the death penalty once and for all.

Most importantly, Shamugan has run out of options within the limits of the Singapore judiciary system, except to ask for a pardon from you, the President.

I hope The President will make a wise and compassionate choice.

A Concerned Singaporean
Charles Tan Teck Wee

Dear Mr. President,

I sincerely hope you will find it in your heart to give serious consideration to a plea being made on behalf of Shanmugams family to spare Shanmugam of the death penalty. I, like many others do not believe that drug trafficking should be taken lightly but neither do I feel that anyone caught trafficking illegally or legally for that matter in drugs should be executed by hanging.

The severity of the offence, I believe stems from the fact of the potential danger it poses for society. However, there are other vices equally destructive to the stability of society – gambling being one of them.

There has been much effort taken to persuade the public to view this otherwise negative habit from an economic point of view. I am sure most Singaporeans do not doubt the economic merits of the proposal even if it can pose a snare to our Singaporean youths. However, the right of choice does not make it an inevitable disaster for all, anymore than drug trafficking can.

Let the onus of responsibility lie with the consumer the State does not have to selectively play the role of nanny for its citizenry.

It is indeed a grave, serious responsibility to take the life of another. Can we, conscientiously justify such horrendous punitive measures in the name of the Law Law which we sometimes conveniently amend to suit our changing times and needs?

Margaret Louis

Note: If you would like us to post your letters of appeal for Mr Shanmugam on this website, please send them to [email protected]