Human Rights Lawyer Apologises For His Comments

Human rights lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam, 41, who represented the now-deceased drug trafficker Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali, made harsh comments about the judiciary when his client was executed, and has now apologised to the court for his statements, as they were in contempt of court.

Source

The die-hard advocate for the abolishment of the death penalty in Singapore heavily criticised the law and Singapore’s legal system on Friday (May 19), on the same day his client was executed.

Contempt Of Court

In the Facebook post, which has since been taken down, Mr Thuraisingam questioned why the “cruel and unjust” death penalty was maintained, implying that monetary gains had blinded our ministers, lawyers and judges: 

Here’s the bit which was problematic:

With our million dollar men turned a blind. Pretending not to see. Ministers, judges and lawyers. Same as the accumulators of wealth. Hiding in the dimness, like rats scavenging for scraps. When does the new car come? Our five stars dim tonight. For a law that makes no sense. A law that’s cruel and unjust. Just as its makers, executors stand.

According to The Straits Times, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Law Society then informed him that his criticism was in contempt of court.

Public Apology

Mr Thuraisingam thus apologised on Monday (June 5) via his Facebook page.

He admitted he had no right to imply that the aforementioned professions were more concerned with their personal financial issues than the law and apologised profusely for his statements.

Support

Despite his admitting to making statements that were in contempt of court, several netizens left messages of support for Mr Thuraisingam:



Source

And their encouragement was deeply appreciated by Mr Thuraisingam, who said in his latest Facebook on Tuesday (June 6) that it helped him through this arduous period.

Controversial Case

The lawyer has been taking up cases pro bono (meaning he worked for free) under the Legal Assistance Scheme for Capital Offences (Lasco) for over 12 years, defending criminals who are in danger of facing the gallows.

He received a Lasco award in 2016 in recognition of his commitment and service.

His most recent case was highly controversial. It involved Singaporean duo Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali and Abdul Haleem.

The pair were arrested in 2010 for trafficking 72.5g of heroin onto Singapore shores but only Muhammad Ridzuan was hanged — his clemency appeal was rejected by the President.

Source

His compatriot, on the other hand, was granted a Certificate of Substantial Assistance by the Public Prosecutor thus sparing him from being hanged — even though the 2 were adjudged to be mere couriers in the drug trafficking offence.

It resulted in questions being asked, not least by Mr Thuraisingam, as to why 2 drug couriers who had committed the same crime had 2 very different punishments, because one was given a Certificate of Substantial Assistance and the other was not.

The case also breathed new life into the age-old debate regarding the death penalty in Singapore, with many calling for a review of Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA).

Let’s Move On

Mr Thuraisingam’s selfless work for those given the death penalty is admirable.

A moment of folly has resulted in him getting into trouble with the court, but he has already published a sincere apology, so let’s all move on from this episode.

Featured images adapted from Facebook and Eugene Thuraisingam LLP.