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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Twins hit the streets with flyers to plead for convicted father's life

Tuesday • April 12, 2005

Jose Raymond

WALK down Orchard Road at almost any time of the day and you are likely to be "accosted" by any number of people handing out flyers selling everything from shoes to timeshare properties.

But yesterday, people outside Centre-point Shopping Centre received flyers from two teenagers with a serious message — a plea to help them save their father, Shanmugam Murugesu, from being executed after he was convicted and sentenced to hang last April for drug trafficking.

Twins Gopalan and Krishnan Murugesu, 14, distributed more than 500 flyers detailing Shanmugam's plight yesterday on the advice of their father's lawyer.

Shanmugam, 38, was sentenced to death after being caught with more than a kilogramme of cannabis at the Tuas Checkpoint on Aug 29, 2003. He has asked the President for clemency after his appeal was dismissed.

On their lawyer's advice, the boys made their public appeal, hoping that members of the public would join their cause.

Said Krishnan, a Secondary 3 student: "My parents are divorced and my father has been looking after us. My mother remarried, lives somewhere else and doesn't see us anymore. If he is hanged ... we will become orphans."

The twins' grandmother, Mdm Letchumi Murugesu, has been looking after them since Shanmugam was imprisoned. According to the twins, Mdm Letchumi is unemployed and relies on handouts from the Singapore Indian Development Association to pay the bills.

Said Gopalan, also a student: "My grandmother will not be around for much longer to care for us. What's going to happen to us after that?

"We have taken our appeal to the streets to seek some compassion."

The boys are hoping that the public can write to President S R Nathan to help their cause. In the flyer, there is also mention of a public forum this weekend where members of the public can sign a petition, which will be delivered to the President.

Among the speakers scheduled for the forum are former Workers Party chief J B Jeyaretnam and Singapore Democratic Party leader Chee Soon Juan.

Shanmugam's lawyer, Mr M Ravi, who is working the case pro bono, stressed that he was not trying to politicise the situation.

He said: "Mr Jeyaretnam is only going to talk about the rule of law on the issue. It is rather hard to keep Dr Chee out of this because he is willing to go against the use of the death penalty.

"But there are other speakers who, like me, do not have any political inclinations and are only doing this because their consciences tell them to."

From the Today newspaper


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