Nagaenthran's Family Is Distraught That His Return Home After 13 Years Is For His Burial

The family urged politicians to refrain from visiting, saying "they all come for publicity" and that "we don't need their help".

Cover image via Sarmila Dharmalingam via AFP & Marina Lopes/FTWP via The Washington Post

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It was a dismal night at Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam's home in Ipoh, Perak on Wednesday, 27 April, with over 50 family members and friends waiting for his body to arrive

Heartache filled the heavy air at the residence in Taman Indah, Tanjung Rambutan, where a canopy is set up along with plastic chairs and tables for the bereaved to gather.

According to Malay Mail, Nagaenthran's body was supposed to arrive before midnight on Wednesday but was delayed due to heavy rains and traffic in Johor Bahru.

The 34-year-old was executed in Singapore pre-dawn yesterday despite multiple appeals being submitted to request a stay of execution as he was intellectually disabled.

Last-ditch clemency pleas made to Singapore President Halimah Yacob were ignored as the country's appellate court dismissed the final appeal submitted by Nagaenthran's mother Panchalai Supermaniam on Tuesday, 26 April.

Nagaenthran's execution is a high-profile case, as not only did Malaysia's Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah write to Halimah on 23 November 2021 appealing clemency for Nagaenthran, it even attracted global attention with British business magnate Sir Richard Branson as well as actor and writer Stephen Fry sending a strong plea to Singapore to spare his life.

New Straits Times reported that the United Nations Human Rights Office had also criticised Singapore and called the nation to halt all executions and abolish capital punishment.

Singapore, like Malaysia, is one of the few countries with the harshest drug laws in the world.

Malaysia had a moratorium on the death sentence in July 2018 but the then Cabinet was criticised for backpaddling the following year for introducing amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 that give judges discretion whether to mete out the death sentence. The amendments were not complete abolishment of capital punishment.

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) — a non-governmental organisation (NGO) —said earlier this month that many drug traffickers are still being sentenced to death in Malaysia, reported Free Malaysia Today.

Speaking to reporters, Nagaenthran's elder sister said her family is not satisfied with the sentence

"We accept that Nagen is no longer with us even though we are not satisfied with the sentence," New Straits Times quoted 36-year-old Sharmila Dharmalingam as saying.

The sister said the family were at a loss for words as the deputy public prosecutor did not ask her family about the reason they wanted to appeal.

"We were already appealing, but the deputy public prosecutor didn't ask the reason why the family was appealing the court decision," she told reporters when met at her home.

"He only focused on who is assisting our family for this kind of appeal."

Calling her family ordinary people, Sharmila said they do not know how to channel their feelings of dissatisfaction.

"We feel mad, but we are just ordinary people. When we filed for an appeal, they asked us who helped us and whether there were any lawyers in the family."

On behalf of her family, Sharmila said she would like to thank Malaysians and Singaporeans for supporting them

"Our family would like to say thank you to everyone who has been helping, supporting, and praying for Nagen. In fact, Singaporeans and others have helped in this aspect," she said.

"It is hard (to accept the loss) but what can we do? In the end, we need to accept that he is no longer with us."

The elder sister said that her mother Panchalai was on the bus to return to the country when the execution happened.

"She is too distraught... we are trying to get her to talk and have a meal too," she lamented.

Nagaenthran's mother Panchalai Supermaniam (middle).

Image via AFP via theSundaily

Nagaenthran's funeral will be held on Friday

According to Bernama, Nagaenthran's remains will be buried between 2pm and 4pm on Friday after a prayer session at their house.

Sharmila told The Vibes that the family does not wish politicians and lawmakers to show up at the funeral, saying "they all come for publicity".

"We don't need their help. We don't want any politicians to come. We have struggled for years but no one came to help us," the mother of three said.

"With donations from Singaporeans, we have funds to manage everything."

She admitted that it was heartwrenching for her to see her younger brother coming home more than a decade later as a deceased.

"We really cannot take it that Nagaen is back home like this. I'm not relieved, instead, I feel so sad because he is not alive."

Nagaenthran was arrested in 2009 in Singapore for trafficking 42.72g of diamorphine.

He had a mild intellectual disability with a lower-than-average IQ of 69. Despite that, the trial judge ruled that he was on the borderline of having a functional intellect and concluded that he was aware he was committing a crime.

Learn more about Nagaenthran's case here: