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In yet another attempt to stifle debate about the death penalty in Singapore, the Government has refused to grant Amnesty International Spokesman, Mr Tim Parritt, a permit to speak at the public forum organised by the Open Singapore Centre on 16 April 2005 at Hotel Asia, Scotts Road. The title of the forum is Death penalty and the rule of law in Singapore.
Amnesty International (AI) is a prominent critic of the death penalty in Singapore. In an authoritative report published in 2004 that received world-wide attention, it cited Singapore as having a shockingly high, hidden toll of executions. The country has the highest number of executions per capita in the world. AI added that the death penalty in Singapore is shrouded in secrecy.
In a blatant attempt to keep the matter under wraps, the Singapore Government has now denied Mr Parritt, a Briton, an opportunity to speak (see letter from Immigration & Checkpoints Authority below) and to engage Singaporeans in an open discussion on this life-and-death matter. This exposes the real side Mr Lee Hsien Loong, who wishes the world to believe that he wants a more open and inclusive Singapore as Prime Minister. Mr Lee forgets that politicians are judged by the actions, not words.
As always the reply is given at the very last minute and no reasons are stated for the rejection of the the application.
The forum will proceed, nevertheless. The other 5 speakers J B Jeyaretnam, Anthony Yeo, M Ravi, S Samydorai, and Chee Soon Juan will address the issue. No permit is required if the speakers are locals. Singaporeans are strongly encouraged to attend the forum as they will also get a chance to meet and have discussions with Mr Parritt in private. The AI Spokesman will arrive in Singapore on Friday afternoon (15 April 2005).
In the meantime, death-row inmate Mr Shanmugams mother, Mdm Letchumi, has been in better spirits over the last few days. She called up lawyer M Ravi and excitedly told him that she had received calls from her relatives in India (Mdm Letchumi was born there) who had expressed support and asked what they could do to help her win her sons pardon. It is understood that news of Mr Shanmugams impending execution has been published in some newspapers in India. Who can blame her as she desperately looks for any help that could possibly save her son from death. Illiterate and finding it difficult to follow the legal process, Mdm Letchumi gave a heart-wrenching appeal on video, begging for her sons life as only a mother can: Please give my son back to me…Please dont hang him, please dont hang him. (http://empower-sg.http3.net/16Apr2005forum.html)
Fellow Singaporeans, please find time to attend the forum tomorrow and help us appeal to President Nathan to save Mr Shanmugam from the gallows. The reasons against his execution are compelling and will be discussed at the forum. The action is urgent as Mr Shanmugam is due to be hanged in a few weeks from now. Mdm Letchumi and her twin grandsons will also be present and they will be grateful for your support.
Letter from the Immigration & Checkpoint Authority
15 April 2005
Dr Chee Soon Juan
Open Singapore Centre
1357A Serangoon Road
APPLICATION FOR A PROFESSIONAL VISIT PASS
MR TIMOTHY BRIAN PARRITT
Thank you for your interest in applying for a Professional Visit Pass for the abovenamed speaker to speak at the public forum on 16 April at Hotel Asia.
We have carefully considered the application. However, we regret to inform you that the application has not been successful.
MRS WEE-LEONG YUET PHENG
VISITOR SERVICES CENTRE
For CONTROLLER OF IMMIGRATION