Friday, September 08, 2006

I'm the victim here, says Ravi

Published 6.30.2006 by Charles

Lawyer facing action writes to the Law SocietyFriday • June 30, 2006Christie Lohchristie@newstoday.com.sg

Lawyer M Ravi (picture), 37, is facing the prospect of a temporary suspension — or worse, having his licence revoked — for insolence toward a female district judge, a case that comes in the wake of several instances of improper court behaviour.But Mr Ravi wrote a letter to the Law Society yesterday, decrying what he called "a serious miscarriage of justice".He argued that his case did not warrant an appearance before the Court of Three Judges. That is the legal profession's top disciplinary authority with the power to strike an errant lawyer off the rolls or suspend him for a maximum of five years.The Law Society's disciplinary committee had referred Mr Ravi to the highest body after hearing of the solicitor's rude behaviour during a trial presided over by District Judge Wong Choon Ning three years ago.Mr Ravi's poor behaviour included speaking loudly while other cases were being heard, and remaining seated while being addressed by the judge.Because Justice Wong lodged a complaint with the Law Society, the matter was brought before its disciplinary committee which last week ordered Mr Ravi to pay the Law Society costs of $2,000 and also decided to involve the Court of Three Judges.Mr Ravi, who has forked out more than $5,000 for four previous transgressions, told Today that he would pay the latest penalty. But he insisted that the Law Society had no case against him.He explained that Justice Wong had accepted his apology. And because she refused to testify against him, the Law Society should then have either dropped all the charges, or proceeded with the case without the judge's evidence, which could eventually lead to the charge not being proved.However, neither course of action was taken, as the Law Society went on to amend the charges, resulting in a less serious case against Mr Ravi.That confused the disciplinary committee, which chided the Law Society for not having understood the legal implications. But the committee still concluded that Mr Ravi should go before the Court of Three Judges because disrespect for judicial authority is "like poison transfused into the system little by little attracting less than serious attention," the committee said in its report."As a result of a series of misdirections, I am now a victim," Mr Ravi said in his letter.When contacted, Law Society's communications assistant director Shawn Toh said he had not seen the letter."I don't know how the Council will respond. They may choose to ignore it or not," he added.Mr Ravi, who is representing the Singapore Democratic Party's Dr Chee Soon Juan in a defamation case filed against him by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, received support from his client.Dr Chee said that if Mr Ravi was suspended, it could deprive SDP leaders of legal representation.

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.

ST censors Anthony Yeo's defence of M.Ravi

First spotted atsammyboy's forum. Apparently the Straits Jacket refused to print the letter, I am sure it was due to editorial constraints such as space. What other possible reason could there be?From:Anthony YeoClinical DirectorCounselling and Care CentreTo:EditorStraits Times Forum
Dear Sir,I am surprised that the efforts of lawyer M. Ravi in getting the death sentence lifted for drug trafficker Shanmugam Murugesu have come underfire by his legal colleagues (ST, May 15).It would appear from the reaction of the various legal colleagues that M Ravi was seeking publicity for personal gains in his attempts to be part of a concerted effort to appeal for clemency from the President.My observations informed me otherwise.The efforts of M. Ravi has been aimed at helping the two sons and other of Shanmugam Murugesu to garner support for a last ditch attempt at having the death sentence be reduced to life imprisonment.This laudable involvement of M. Ravi should be applauded as he like many of us are aware that the manadtory death sentence has long been accepted as an inevitable punishment for durg trafficking.In the process Singapore has earned the distinction of being one of the few nations in the world that has a high rate of death sentences imposed.The recent article "Death sentence? Let judges decide" (ST, May 9)containing views by two legal authorities, K.S. Rajah and Associate Professor Michael Hor had highlighted the need to review our practice of imposing the death sentence.What I believe M. Ravi had done is simply to be part of a this voice from concerned people appealing that the government review the practice of mandatory death sentence.In this instance, the appeal for clemency for Shanmugam Murugesu provides a platform for giving weight to this voice.It has also been said that getting the sons and mother involved in the process could be damaging to them as M. Ravi would be giving them false hopes as claimed by the various lawyers.This is a rather unfair criticism as M. Ravi did not act alone although he had invested much time for this cause at his personal expense.As a mental health professional it is my belief that no one should be denied the opportunity to have hope of any kind. By involving the sons in the appeals they were given the opportunity to do whatever they could to fight for their father's life.This can only help with their grief as the death sentence of their father can only become a life sentence for them as they will have to live with the stigma of being sons of a condemned man for the rest of their lives.At least now the sons can release their father without any need to suffer the guilt of having done nothing for him in a situation they have absolutely no control over.It must also be acknowledged that a death sentence may put away one life that is supposedly a danger to sociiety, but has disturbing long term consequences for next-of-kin as well.In light of what has happened including the discussion calling for a review of the death penalty, I would join in appealing that we stop further sentencing and execution where death penalty is mandatory and consider the views expressed.There is no need to impute motives, political or otherwise to those who are calling for a review of the death penalty, even if the recent forum on death penalty had opposition party members involved.As a member of the forum speaker to offer a mental health perspective to the issue, I was reasonably surprised at the capacity crowd that turned up at the forum, including folks involved in civil society movement.It would seem that they were concerned enough to be present to render support to the sons and mother of Shanmugam Murugesu.I was hopeful that the forum could be the beginning of more public discussion on this matter and urge the legal profession to take initiative in bringing about change to mandatory death sentence instead of being critical of the efforts of their colleague M Ravi.Anthony YeoClinical DirectorCounselling and Care CentreRelated Article:Character Assassination of Mr.M.Ravi

M Ravi to tour Europe to campaign for human rights and abolition of mandatory death sentence in SingaporePublished

2 Jul 06

Lawyer Mr M Ravi, will embark on a speaking tour in Europe to promote awareness about human rights violations in Singapore and to campaign against the imminent execution of two Africans, Nigerian Amara Tochi and South African Okele Nelson Malachy.Mr Ravi's first stop is Budapest, Hungary where he will participate in a human rights course at the Central European University organized by the Open Society Institute. The five-day course will cover subjects on the teaching of human rights, the organizing of group protests, the reform of the rule of law, and the advocacy of human rights & good governance. Following the stint in Hungary, Mr Ravi will visit Germany beginning 15 July 2006 where he will meet with the media and civil society leaders to brief them about the internationally condemned mandatory death sentence meted to small-time drug peddlers in Singapore. He will encourage the Germans to help campaign for the Nigerian and South African. In 2002, Ms Julia Bohl, a German national, was let off with a three-year jail term after the German authorities intervened and pressured the Singapore government not to hang her.From 20-26 July 2006, Mr Ravi will visit Sweden and the UK where he will meet with parliamentarians, political parties, journalists, and NGOs to alert them to the on-going abuse of human rights in Singapore such as the criminal prosecution of Dr Chee Soon Juan, Mr Gandhi Ambalam, and the Mr Yap Keng, and the use of defamation suits to silence PAP critics. He will also continue his advocacy for the abolition of the mandatory death sentence in Singapore during his visit to these countries.In Sweden, Mr Ravi will meet with three leading legal experts on defamation law and freedom of expression to discuss with them the summary judgment that Messrs Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong are taking out in their suit against Dr Chee Soon Juan and Ms Chee Siok Chin.In the UK, Mr Ravi will meet with international NGOs and Members of the European Parliament to urge them to pay more attention to the continuing suppression of democratic rights in Singapore. He will also attempt to meet with Mr Tan Wah Piow, a former student leader in Singapore and now lawyer in the UK.En route to Europe, Mr Ravi will stopover in Hong Kong to attend a conference on the death penalty organized by Amnesty International. He will also meet with lawmakers and human rights activists there to encourage greater cooperation between democracy advocates in Hong Kong and Singapore.At the various stops, Mr Ravi will conduct press conferences to bring to the attention of the European public the atrocities of PAP-control in Singapore. This website will update readers on the developments.http://www.singaporedemocrat.org/articleravieurotour.html

Falun Gong trial takes extraordinary turns in Singapore

Published by soci.
[Ms. Ng Chye Huay (L) and Mr. Erh Boon Tiong held a protest across from the Chinese Embassy in Singapore on July 20. (The Epoch Times)]Epoch TimesSeptember 4, 2006SINGAPORE

By Jaya Gibson and Steven Smith
See Epoch Times for related articles

M RAVI, the lawyer representing Falun Gong practitioners Ng Huey Chuen and Erh Boon Tiong, appeared today in the High Court of Singapore to obtain a ruling on a Criminal Motion he filed yesterday against Judge Singh.The Singapore police arrested and charged the protesters for writing on a banner: "Stop persecution of Falun Gong in China." The words according to the prosecution are insulting, because they believe the persecution of Falun Gong in China is untrue. Previously, cross examination had established that the Investigating Officer agreed that the words could not be insulting if the persecution was verified factually correct.The motion cited breaches of his clients' constitutional rights to a fair trial. At the heart of the issue was the verifying of the persecution of Falun Gong in China and a UN report whose findings confirmed this. M Ravi felt Judge Singh had not facilitated proceedings to allow this exhibit to be admitted.Present in the High Court were the accused, witnesses for the defence, the Deputy Public Prosecutor, government members, members of the press, police representatives, some 30 plus Falun Gong practitioners and some of the highest-ranking judges in the Supreme Court.Ms Chen, who had been deported by the Immigration Department despite being acquitted and had to be subpoenaed to appear as a witness, was also present in court.M Ravi began by summarising the persecution in China including evidence cited in the UN report in question, organ harvesting of live Falun Gong practitioners cited in David Kilgour and David Matas's report, Vice President of the European Parliament Edward Macmillan-Scotts' statement that he was in no doubt that this abominable practice of organ harvesting was indeed occurring in China and constituted genocide, the numerous court cases worldwide against members of the Chinese Communist Party involved in this persecution, and the 610 office set up in China solely to persecute Falun Gong.M Ravi noted that Falun Gong practitioners' books were withheld at the Supreme Court security checkpoint pointing out this discrimination.M Ravi also indicated he would hold members of the press accountable for misleading reports on this matter and would submit subpoenas which would be a matter for another court.The High Court Judge ruled that the matter be looked at in a broader context and the Subordinate should resolve the issue itself thus denying the motion.M Ravi then filed a subpoena against the Deputy Public Prosecutor which was not only refused by the subpoena judge but it was also ruled that he should apply to the Subordinate Judge; a first in Singapore legal history.Proceedings continued at the Subordinate Court later that afternoon with Judge Singh instructing that the cross examination of the witness should continue despite a 3-hour delay due to Ravi's applications at the Court of Appeal and the Subordinate Court. In a shocking turn of events, M Ravi discharged himself for this trial stating that he had run out of resources and energy. He further recommended that his clients seek legal aid and other counsel. He further stated that while dismissed he would continue to be present in court and offer his counsel where possible and had many subpoenas to apply for. All in all it was an extraordinary day for the Singapore courts.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Nguyen could be spared, argues Singaporean lawyer

The World Today - Nguyen could be spared, argues Singaporean lawyer
[This is the print version of story http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2005/s1496206.htm]

The World Today - Wednesday, 2 November , 2005 12:30:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: A Singaporean lawyer who's acted for two death row prisoners says while diplomatic channels have now closed for the Australian drug trafficker Van Nguyen, there is still hope he can be spared execution through a legal appeal.Mr M Ravi, a human rights lawyer who made Singapore's death penalty a front-page issue when he represented a Singaporean athlete on death row, says while Van Nguyen has only about 10 days to go before he's likely to be executed, that is time enough to lodge the appeal.And Mr Ravi says if it's successful, the case could overthrow the death penalty in Singapore altogether.He spoke to me from Singapore earlier today.

ELEANOR HALL: Mr Ravi, do you think the Australian Government has done all it can to try to save Van Nguyen?

M RAVI: I think the Australian Government has tried its utmost at this point, but from now they have to realise that, and also the Australian public must realise that diplomatic channel has come to a dead-end, and we are looking at a prospective execution from the two cases I dealt with before – 11th of November must be the cut-off date that they must look at. There must be some timeframe they have to work, because execution takes place three weeks from the last date where announcement is made on the rejection of the clemency.But what is important right now is to exhaust other avenues that are available. One, the legal avenues are not closed. In particular, I would like to cite that the Court of Appeal in Van's case, the court said that it is now open to an accused to show through experts and international law that a mandatory death sentence is cruel and inhuman punishment under customary international law. Therefore, there is light on this path, and this commentary was taken from one of the eminent former High Court judicial commissioner, as well as a senior counsel. The Court of Appeal has said very clearly that if you can show through international law that mandatory death sentence is cruel and inhuman, we will have judicial discretion and stave off the execution.

ELEANOR HALL: So what do you think the Australian Government should be doing in this light then?

M RAVI: What the Australian Government should do is that… ask what they can do is that to appeal to his advanced counsel to instruct the counsel in Singapore – and I am prepared to do this matter pro-bono, that I've always done – or any other lawyers whom they think deem fit to canvas this point. So therefore, there's a resumé and case law have already developed in this point, and this can be canvassed before the court. In fact, that could be a first case of, you know, the first case to begin and end to the death penalty in Singapore. There's a brilliant window of opportunity opened there. I don't know why the lawyers are not using this.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, you've also made your own appeal to the President of Singapore. You raise the case of a British man extradited to Singapore from Australia. Why is this case relevant?

M RAVI: This case is relevant because what we have been arguing for in Singapore is the courts should have judicial discretion, you know, in death sentences.You know, in this instance, in particular, that executive discretion had been exercised, ie. the Singapore Government even before the case had commenced in the court, I mean McCrea's case of…

ELEANOR HALL: This is the British man?

M RAVI: British man, British national, who was resident or illegal immigrant in Australia, the Singapore Government had given an undertaking that they will grant basically clemency, even before the case had gone to the courts, and even before the clemency had been formally submitted. If they could give executive discretion could be exercised, why are they, why the same is not applied to Van? Therefore, he is prejudicially treated.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, what response have you received from the President to your appeal?

M RAVI: The President has not written to me, and the last two occasions when I've written similar petitions to the President, the President has just one-liner say that, you know, we do not accede to your request, full-stop.

ELEANOR HALL: If the President has so far not responded, what course of action will you now take?

M RAVI: What I would like the Australian community to do right now is to approach United Nations and file a complaint with the UN rapporteur for extra-judicial and summary executions, and asking the Singapore Government – the UN can ask the Singapore Government to stave off the execution, pending an inquiry into this matter, before it's too late.

ELEANOR HALL: Why would the Singaporean Government listen to Australia or any other member of the international community making that point, when its argument is that it weighs the rights of the prisoner against the rights of the Singaporean community?

M RAVI: Because there is already a movement forward towards this process, and given the fact that Caribbean lawyers from London have gone into Commonwealth countries and abolished death penalty through this kind of legal arguments and all that, why don't we look at all these avenues?Of course, this is normal process should be exhausted. But what is very important is the other avenues, which seemingly seems to not to get addressed by the Australian media or the Australian Government. I don't understand why.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, you've acted for two death row prisoners…

M RAVI: Right.

ELEANOR HALL: … What's it like for these people waiting on death row?

M RAVI: Ah… it's um, extremely excruciating an experience, because in particular the fact that the last day of the week they will give a letter on the Monday saying that, you know, from Tuesday to Thursday, preceding the execution on Friday that you can visit, you know, from nine o'clock to five o'clock, and also the letter also has a line that says that please make the funeral arrangements, necessary funeral arrangements on Friday, failing which the state will conduct its state funeral. So having that letter and receiving it in a very nonchalant or blasé way the prison authorities usually treat these matters, so having taken that and going and visiting the prisoners, it's very, very inhumane and very painful.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, Mr Ravi, at this stage, how do you rate the Australian prisoner Van Nguyen's chances of survival?

M RAVI: Diplomatic channels are completely closed at this moment. It's come to a dead-end. One has not, one must not delude oneself. I think if all the other avenues that I have stated, the legal avenues as well as the International Court of Justice, as well as the United Nations process, should kick off, and if this kicks off, I think he has a good chance, I would say.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's Singaporean human rights lawyer, Mr M Ravi.

© 2005 Australian Broadcasting CorporationCopyright information:

http://abc.net.au/common/copyrigh.htmPrivacy information: http://abc.net.au/privacy.htm

Nguyen supporters lobby for his life

The World Today - Nguyen supporters lobby for his life [This is the print version of story
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2005/s1497923.htm ]

The World Today - Friday, 4 November , 2005 12:46:00

Reporter: Brendan Trembath

ELEANOR HALL: Supporters of a convicted Australian drug smuggler Van Nguyen are still hopeful he can be spared the death penalty in Singapore.They're using the media and international forums to urge the Singaporean authorities not to carry out the planned execution. But Australia's Prime Minister John Howard is pessimistic about Van Nguyen's prospects, saying he's done everything he can do.This report from Brendan Trembath.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: It's not over yet, says one of Van Nguyen's most dedicated supporters, Singapore lawyer M Ravi. It's a long shot but he says it's worth appealing to the United Nations.

M RAVI: I am going to file a complaint to the United Nations, which is quite a slow mechanism, and they might not respond adequately before even the execution.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: He's already petitioned the Singapore Government not to execute 25-year-old Van Nguyen who was convicted of drug smuggling last year and is due to be executed within weeks.

M RAVI: The Attorney-General is the person who advises the President and the Cabinet on the issue of clemency. Now, the Attorney-General is the person who actually prosecuted Van. How could he be advising the President on clemency, or the Cabinet for that matter on the issue of clemency? There is a clear breach of principles of natural justice, and this has been recognised by some of the Commonwealth countries as a clear breach.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: But Australian Prime Minister John Howard says hope is fading, especially now that Singapore has rejected an appeal for clemency.

JOHN HOWARD: If there are other opportunities that present themselves, I will take advantage of those.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Speaking on Melbourne radio station 3AW, the Prime Minister has insisted he's done everything he can.

JOHN HOWARD: Now, I believe that my personal views on this issue have been very strongly communicated to the Government of Singapore.

NEIL MITCHELL: Now firstly, the family and the lawyers are saying, what is now needed is a personal plea from you.

JOHN HOWARD: Well, I have had a meeting with the lawyer for the family, for the man, and he is fully aware of everything that I have done.

NEIL MITCHELL: Are you prepared to go further if necessary?

JOHN HOWARD: If there's an opportunity, and if I believe it will help the man, I will. But I wouldn't…

NEIL MITCHELL: Can't you create that opportunity?

JOHN HOWARD: Beg your pardon?

NEIL MITCHELL: Can't you create that opportunity by contacting them and saying, look, I feel very strongly about this person?

JOHN HOWARD: Neil, I have done what I can do, and my personal views are very well known to the Prime Minister of Singapore.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Federal Opposition leader Kim Beazley largely agrees with the Prime Minister.

KIM BEAZLEY: We're doing our level best. I don't want to be critical of them here. They've fought on this too, we passed a motion through Parliament this week. We've done our best. Look, we've got to make absolutely clear to our kids if it's not clear to them by now… you don't, you go to Asia and you start importing drugs, getting yourselves involved with these people, you face some exceptional penalties.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: But Mr Beazley has told Sydney station 2GB there's still good reason for the Singapore Government to reconsider its decision.

KIM BEAZLEY: The thing that I hope the Singaporean Government will take notice of is this - this bloke's got a lot of information and would be a very good witness, or can put some of the Mr Bigs in the chokey, on the basis of the sort of advice that he's able to give. So I hope the Singapore authorities let the young feller live. I hope that on principle, but I also hope it for the sake of a decent investigation into his principles.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Singapore lawyer M Ravi will keep trying to convince the Singapore Government to change its mind.

M RAVI: They must understand that due process had not been followed and this is what I have been saying from the beginning to Amnesty International, as well as the Australian media.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: He's an exception in a nation where most lawyers don't challenge government decisions. The Law Society of Singapore did not return a call seeking a comment on the Van Nguyen case.

ELEANOR HALL: That report from Brendan Trembath.Van Nguyen's lawyer Lex Lasry QC was not available for an interview. He was in court dealing with another matter. But he has repeatedly called on the Singapore Government to reverse its decision on the execution of the Australian man.

© 2005 Australian Broadcasting CorporationCopyright information: http://abc.net.au/common/copyrigh.htm Privacy information: http://abc.net.au/privacy.htm

Monday, October 31, 2005

Please don't crush this soul

Extract from
http://theage.com.au/news/national/plea-dont-crush-this-soul/2005/10/27/1130400306677.html

SHANMUGAM Murugesu has a rare place in Singapore's gallery of hanged men. His fate was acknowledged and discussed publicly, because his family dared to challenge the stigma and use his name to fight against the death penalty. It briefly raised the issue but did not save his life.
On Friday, May 13, 2005, at 6am, Shanmugam was hooded and hanged at Changi prison.
Australian man Nguyen Tuong Van, who was held in the cell next to Shanmugam, and used to talk to him through the wall, awaits a similar fate.

"Shanmugam said this boy is such a gentle soul, all the nine or 10 prisoners (on death row) drew inspiration from this young boy," said M. Ravi, Shanmugam's lawyer for his final presidential clemency appeal.

"Before he died, Shanmugam made a personal appeal to me to save Nguyen Tuong Van's life at all costs," Mr Ravi said. "He called him the small boy, said he didn't know how they were going to crush this simple soul."

Mr Ravi, who has not been involved in Nguyen's defence, will lodge a citizen's appeal to the president citing a breach of the constitution. Shanmugam, 38, was an eight-year veteran of the Singapore Army and a champion powerskier who represented his country at the world titles in 1995. He was hanged for importing six packets, containing almost two kilograms of cannabis, from Malaysia in his motorbike. He admitted to one packet for personal use but denied knowledge of the rest. The death sentence is mandatory for importation of more than 500 grams of cannabis.

A picture of Shanmugam, taken the day before he died, is on the living room wall of the Murugesu family's flat in Jurong West. He is dressed in clothes the family was told to take to the prison for the portrait.

His mother, Letchumi, breaks down as she lifts a ceremonial gold neckchain that hangs over the portrait to show his bruised swollen knuckles, where he had been punching the walls of his cell. Mrs Murugesu, who emigrated to Singapore from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and speaks little English, is preparing to say Deepavali prayers for her son today.

The authorities allowed no physical contact between Shanmugam and his mother, sister Maheswari, or his twin teenage sons Krishnan and Gopalan from the time he was moved to Changi prison after his conviction until his hanging.

"The whole family don't have a chance to hug him, to kiss, they are taking the family love away. We can't touch him, we can only touch his dead body," said his sister.


"He can touch no one, not even a baby. My new baby was born after he went to prison. I want him to hold him and bless him, I said I will give my baby to him naked.

"We made a special request. My mum wanted to feel him, touch him, smell him (before he died). It was not allowed. So he took his towel and wiped his body with it and wanted to give that to her but it was not allowed."

The towel carried the serial number 859. Nguyen Tuong Van's number is 856 — he arrived on death row before Shanmugam.

Details of life on Singapore's death row are protected by the Official Secrets Act. The family would not comment on the significance of the number. However, others have suggested it relates to the number of prisoners who have been hanged in Singapore in the past 30 years. Amnesty International estimates more than 400 prisoners have been hanged since 1991.

"The worst part is they will never tell you (when the execution will take place) until the end. If your son is going to hang they call you to a private room," Maheswari said.

The usual procedure is to issue a letter but the Murugesus were told in person during a prison visit. The call came on Monday, May 9.

"One of the officers called me, my mother fell down, she was crying, she was begging them to give her back her son and she would leave Singapore and take him back to India.

"For Shanmugam and Van, it was their first times, they could learn their lessons," she said. "If my brother was sitting inside four walls it is more than enough to learn from what he has done. In 10 to 15 years, he can do something. He could study in prison. Not only one life is gone, but other lives are suffering, every day we are all still crying. He never killed any people, people can change."

The Hindu tradition is to burn the body and scatter the ashes at sea. Shanmugam had one last request: "I don't want my ashes spread in the Singapore sea."

Petition to President of Singapore

The Honourable Excellency
The Elected President
Republic of Singapore
c/o Istana Singapore
Office of the Elected President of the Republic of Singapore
Orchard Road
URGENT
BY FAX & BY HAND
Fax: 67353135Singapore 238823

27th October 2005

Dear Sir,

REQUEST TO CONVENE A CONSTITUTIONAL TRIBUNAL UNDER ARTICLE 100 OF THE CONSTITUION OF SINGAPORE
NGUYEN TUONG VAN – CONDEMNED PRISIONER NO. 856

It is noted with regret that the Honourable Elected President had turned down the petition for clemency for the above mentioned Australian citizen. As a private citizen of Singapore, I humbly appeal and urge Your Excellency to accede to my request to convene a Constitutional Tribunal under Article 100 of the Constitution on an urgent basis. This request is made in view of contravention of Articles 9 and 12 of the Constitution and the breach of the principle of natural justice under Article 22(p) of the said Constitution.

This letter is written under the locus standi of a private concerned Singapore citizen. Your Excellency’s order for a Constitutional Tribunal to be convened would be greatly appreciated.

The grounds for the Constitutional Tribunal to be convened are set out in the press release and annexed herewith :

a) To satisfy that the due process is complied with;

b) That there is a contravention of the Articles of the Constitution as mentioned above;

c) That the condemned prisoner had been unfairly and preducially treated compared to a British national (Mc Crea) who was extradited to Singapore from Australia and suffers discrimination before our Constitution;

d) The clemency petition be reconsidered.


As the matter is of great urgency I would be obliged if Your Excellency would reply by Monday, 31st October 2005.


Yours faithfully,

M. Ravi

Press Release

Press Release
by M.Ravi


Shanmugam Murugesu was executed May this year on Friday the 13th , which we recall as a black day for Singapore despite a high profile campaign by the civil society in Singapore and also despite my application in Court which was heard 12 hours before the execution and also asking the President to convene a Constitutional Court on the potential breaches of the Constitution, request of which was turned town.

Shanmugam a national athlete who brought fame for Singapore had, on occasions when I met him in the prison, made a personal appeal to me to do all the best to campaign to save Nguyen Tuong Van’s (“Van”) life. He also mentioned that he was the confidante for Van during his time in the prison and would express to me that the feeling among the guys on death row was that if any of them were to get off they would be glad if it was Van, as he was so “very young and a soft spoken soul”. Shanmugam also said that even if Shanmugam’s life was not spared that I should continue to fight to save this young man’s life.

The President had turned down the clemency for Van. It came as a surprise to me given the recent negotiations between the Singapore and Australian Governments on the issue of extraditing McCrea to Singapore.



Discrimination under Article 12(a) of the Constitution, equal treatment and equality before law


Discrimination in Singapore

4. The fact the in McCrea’s case the Singapore Executive had given an undertaking that McCrea will not be executed even if he was convicted of murder, is an indication that the Executive had exercised discretion on the issue of capital punishment. This is even before Mc Crea’s trial had begun.

5.We have been arguing in Singapore that there should be Judicial Discretion in capital cases and most importantly in drug related cases when the burden of proof is reversed on the accused. The reason being an overwhelming number executions are related to drugs. The Singapore Executive had even gone one step further to say that they will advise the President on clemency.

6. Even before Mc Grae’s case begins the Government had given undertaking. Therefore an Executive discretion had been exercised vis-a-vis Judicial discretion. If Mc Crea who is alleged to have committed double murder and even if he is convicted of death, he will not get death sentence. That is the essence of the undertaking of the Singapore Government as far as his case is concerned. If the Courts were to pass death sentence, the President would then grant clemency.

7. If the Governement had decided to exercise discretion, why are Judges prevented in exercising Judicial discretion. Judicial discretion is more endearing by constitutional standards and endures within the realm of the rule of law. Hence Van is treated unequally on the issue of clemency against the backdrop of Mc Crea’s case. Therefore Article 12 is invoked in favour of Van that he is treated unequally before the law and thereby discriminated under the Singapore’s Constituion.

In PP v Taw Chen Kong, the Chief Justice quoted the Privy Council case of Ong Ah Chuan v PP, where Lord Diplock succinctly states the equality provision.

“Equality before the law and equal protection of the law require
that like should be compared with like. What Article 12 (1) of the
Constitution assures to the individual is the right to equal
treatment with other individuals in similar circumstances.”

Discrimination in Australia

8. The fact that the foreign ministry in Australia said that the due process had been followed is flawed and shows their discriminatory attitude to Van’s case. Both cases, springs forth from Australia, - one is a British national who resided in Australia and the other is a Vietnamese citizen of Australia. To further elaborate on the point which I claim that the Australian Foreign Ministry’s comment of “ the due process is followed” is aslo discriminatory to Van under the Australian Constitution when it is plain and obvious that the very Foreign Ministry which canvassed for Mc Crea shut their blind eye to Van on this point of equality before the Constitution.

9.It is inspiring as an anti-death penalty citizen, to note the fervour of the Australians on this issue to save Van from being executed, when all legal avenues are seemingly closed. There were constitutional arguments raised before the Australian Courts on Mc Crea’s case, on the issue of extradition and death penalty. It is up to the Constitutional experts in Australia to explore and advise their Government on this issue of discrimination. But certainly I would like to highlight this issue to Amnesty International Australia and the Australian coalition against death penalty. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. But Mc Crea’s case is source on the issue of discrimination as far as the clemency process is concerned.

10.The fact that the Australian Government had turned its blind eyes to what is obvious on this Constitutional breach under Article 12 is clearly discriminatory. When they are deeply involved in the Mc Crea’s case on the Constitutional issue of death penalty and the fact they failed to see that it is discrimination before the Singapore Constitution, is discriminatory. Hence the failure to see this discrimination or turning a blind eye is a discrimination before the Australian Constitution.



Article 22(2) of the Singapore Constitution –Nguyen Tuong Van suffers a breach of the principle of natural justice


11.The President’s refusal to grant a pardon to the applicant be set aside by way an application in court or Petition to the President to reconsider his decision. This is based on the on the ground that the Presidential pardon process under Article 22P of the Constitution contravenes the principles of natural justice and further contravenes Article 9(1) of the Constitution, and the execution of the application be stayed or set aside pending the determination on this issue. The essence of the aforesaid is that article 22P(2) itself is in breach of the principles of natural justice because the decision making process involving the pardon is defective because the President’s decision when exercising whether to grant a pardon in a particular case is based on the Attorney General’s opinion. Hence Article 22(P) contravenes Article 9(1) which says “ No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law”. Accordance with law means principles of natural justice are observed.

The whole of Article 22P is reproduced below :


Grant of pardon, etc. 22P. —(1) The President, as occasion shall arise, may, on the advice of the Cabinet —

(2) Where any offender has been condemned to death by the sentence of any court and in the event of an appeal such sentence has been confirmed by the appellate court, the President shall cause the reports which are made to him by the Judge who tried the case and the Chief Justice or other presiding Judge of the appellate court to be forwarded to the Attorney-General with instructions that, after the Attorney-General has given his opinion thereon, the reports shall be sent, together with the Attorney-General’s opinion, to the Cabinet so that the Cabinet may advise the President on the exercise of the power conferred on him by clause (1).

12.It is crystal clear that there has been a breach of the principles of Natural Justice as the decision making process of the pardon is defective in the exercise of the President’s refusal to grant pardon. Also the special reports by judges forwarded to the Cabinet,AG or President are not disclosed and made available to the condemned prisoner to present Clemency petition. The non-disclosure of the reports to the condemned prisoner is laso a breach of natural justice. Annexed herewith is a copy of my affidavit supporting the aforesaid contention which was filed in Court in shanmugam’s case.

President is empowered under Article 100 of the Constitution to convene a Constitutional Court on any issue relating to the Constitution

13. I am urging the President in my capacity as a citizen to convene a Constitutional Court in view of the aforesaid breaches of the Constitution in Van’s case. It is open to the people of Singapore to likewise ask the President to convene a Constitutional Court on an urgent process so that then “ the due process is followed”, before rushing into this execution. I also appeal to the Australians to urge the President to do so.

14. I am submitting my Petition to the President through this Press Conference and the said Petiton will be served on the President by today, a copy of which is enclosed herewith.

15. I respectfully urge that his Excellency treat the matter with urgency given the nature of the Petition. If a reply is not forthcoming by the President by Tuesday,31 October 2005, I wish to place his Excellency on notice that I will proceed to file a complaint to the United Nations Special Rappoteur for Extra-Judicial,Summary or Arbitrary Executions on the aforesaid manifest breaches on due process in pleading with UN to urge the Singapore authorities to stay the execution pending an inquiry by UN on the aforesaid matters and also urge the UN to appeal to the President to conveve a Constitutional Court to address the contravention of the Constitution.

16. I appeal to the Australian public to take this matter on an urgent basis to the United Nations. As my resources are limited, I appeal to the United Nations Experts in Australia to follow up and render immediate assistance on this matter and interested parties can contact me at mravilaw@gmail.com. This is to ensure that all avenues are exhausted including the UN mechanism.

17. From the experience of the 2 cases that I handled pro-bono and where I was only instructed the clemency stage, hanging takes place within three weeks from the date of the rejection of the clemency on the 3rd Friday. Here we are looking at 11th November 2005.



Breach of Article 9 of the Singapore Constitution – no one shall be deprived of his life save in accordance with law. Accordance with law means due process.

18. The President must satisfy that the Constitution is not breached in the spirit of Article 9 above. Unless he does this, the execution is unlawful, unconstitutional, arbitrary, discriminatory and violation of the Constitution. Therefore it is unsafe at this moment to proceed with the execution.

Legal avenues open to Van -The Australian Challenge
19. In the Court of appeal, Van’s lawyers challenged the legality of the mandatory sentence of death,, inter alia, on the ground that the death sentence was unconstitutional and therefore illegal. The appellant relied on Articles 9, and 12

An article by Mr.K.S Rajah,SC, former judicial commissioner( annexed herewith)

“The potential use of international law to infuse meaning into domestic law on
punishment that is rigid, cruel, inhuman or degrading to make it more flexible and human by the court’s exercising discretionary powers when the mandatory sentence is prescribed is now an arguable case.


20. Dealing with the specific mode of execution as being contrary to the prohibition in customary international law against cruel and inhuman treatment in Article 5 of the UDHR which provides:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”

the Court said: “To succeed on this ground of appeal, the appellant must first show that the prohibition against cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment amounts to a customary international rule. Next, the appellant must show that a specific prohibition against hanging as a mode of execution is part of the content of that rule in customary international law.”

21. Singapore cannot for long be a global city and player in the world’s affairs in every respect, except when it comes to punishing offenders for wrongs done.

It is now open to an accused to show through experts in international law that a mandatory death sentence is cruel and inhuman punishment under customary international law. There is light on the path.

Whether an innocent man be hanged Singapore because of because of Procedure?

22. If as counsel for a condemned person, I am able to adduce fresh evidence or
canvass a new argument which has merits, in both situations, after the Appellate
process has been exhausted (that is after an appeal has been heard by the Court of Appeal), what recourse does my client, the condemned man, have?

23. As it stands the court restated their position in the case of Vignes Moorthy v PP that it does not have the power to re-open a case where an appeal had already been heard and dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

24. This is what the Chief Justice meant when he said that -

When Mr Ravi asked the CJ if the public prosecutor was “still
maintaining that an innocent man be hanged because of procedure”, the CJ answered : “Yes, the answer is yes.”
Was Vignes Mourthy innocent? Was he hanged due to the legal
procedures in Singapore?

Today Online dated 27September 2003
by Teo Hwee Mak and Joy Frances

25. The aforesaid clearly shows that there is a serious defect in our legal system, since it has undeniably been stated by the Chief Justice himself that an innocent man can be hanged.

26. From my point of view the Courts have revisionary powers which they ought to have defined in Vignes Moorthy’s case. Unfortunately, they made a decision
which completely shuts the door on the condemned prisoner. This is brutal where
an innocent person is concerned because a man is presumed to be innocent.

Article 9 (1) states :
“no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in
accordance with law.”

27. Law here means the due process. Due process must mean that an innocent man cannot be hanged

Further and in the alternative the execution of the applicant be stayed because it is unsafe to carry out the execution of the applicant as it contravenes Article 9(1) of the Constitution.


28. Putting aside the court system in Singapore, where do we go from here?

“The judges said their court was not the constitutional court therefore could not decide the matter”.

Today Online dated 27September 2003
by Teo Hwee Mak and Joy Frances

The problem in relation to the administration of justice in Singapore has
to be addressed before a man’s life is gone.

Campaign against execution of Van

29. I am appealing to the civil society in Singapore to participate in the upcoming campaign in the next two weeks, details of which will be revealed shortly in the next couple of days. I have faith that Singaporeans will show their full support regardless of the nationality,religion and ethnic background of anyone who faces imminent execution here. I have faith that Singaporeans will rise above nationality,race and religion in appealing to the President to reconsider his decision.

30. A letter writing campaign is ongoing as it might help Van to receive letters telling him that Singaporeans care about his situation.
A group of concerned Singaporeans are meeting on Saturday 7pm at Empires’s Café,Raffles Hotel to discuss responses

Launch of book “Hung At Dawn”

31. On 19th November 2005, I’m releasing a novel on the struggles of two condemned prisoner after their appeals was dismissed. And I was involved at the clemency stage in both of these cases, pro bono, when all avenues were closed. There were similar issue raised by me, similarly asking the President to convene Constitutional Court, which the President turned down my requestwithout giving any explanation.

Dated this 27th Day of November 2005 @ Hotel Grand Plaza, 3 p.m.

M.Ravi
Singapore