Presidential Clemency in Singapore
Presidential clemency, or presidential pardon, is an authority held by the President under the Singapore Constitution. It allows him, on Cabinet’s advice, to extend leniency towards those convicted of crimes upon receiving a petition for clemency.
Clemency is most commonly sought in respect of death sentences. However, it is rarely granted.
Clemency may be granted in the form of a remission of sentence, i.e. a full or partial reduction of an offender’s sentence. There are also other ways in which the President is empowered to show mercy. These depend on whether the offender petitioning for clemency is the principal offender, or an accomplice.
Can Principal Offenders Obtain Clemency?
The President has the ability to grant the following to offenders convicted of any offence in any court in Singapore:
- Pardons: excusing the offender from having to serve his sentence. This pardon may be unconditional or be subject to certain lawful conditions.
- Reprieves: a postponement of the execution of the offender’s sentence.
- Respites: a suspension of the execution of the offender’s sentence.
Can Accomplices Obtain Clemency?
The President can also grant pardons (but not reprieves or respites) to accomplices. This is provided that these accomplices have given information which leads to the conviction of the offence’s principal offenders.
Presidential Clemency in Respect of Death Sentences
Presidential clemency is frequently sought by offenders who have been sentenced to death as a “last-ditch” attempt to avoid the gallows after all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.
Upon receiving a petition for clemency, the President requests the judges who tried the case to make reports on the case to him.
The President then forwards these reports to the Attorney-General (AG) and instructs the AG to send these reports, together with the AG’s opinion on them, to the Cabinet. This is so as to allow the Cabinet to advise the President whether the offender should be granted clemency.
Instances of Persons being Granted Presidential Clemency in Singapore
Mr Mathavakannan s/o Kalimuthu
Presidential clemency was granted to Mr Mathavakannan s/o Kalimuthu in 1998 by the late President Ong Teng Cheong.
Mr Kalimuthu had been sentenced to death on 27 November 1996 for committing murder with 2 others. Although all 3 offenders filed petitions for clemency, only Mr Kalimuthu’s was granted, with his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
The reasons for Mr Kalimuthu’s successful petition were not made public.
Anthony Ler’s teenage accomplice
In 2018, the then-teenage accomplice of Anthony Ler was granted presidential clemency by President Halimah Yacob after being detained at the President’s pleasure for 17 years.
The accomplice had been found guilty of murdering the wife of Anthony Ler in 2001. However as he was below 18 years old when he committed the crime, he was spared the death penalty and instead detained at the President’s pleasure in accordance with Singapore’s criminal laws then.
(Being detained at the President’s pleasure means to be imprisoned indefinitely until the offender is deemed to be suitable for release. In the meantime, the offender’s conduct in prison is periodically reviewed to determine whether they should be released.)
In 2017, his lawyer applied for clemency, which was granted after taking into consideration factors such as his good conduct, progress of rehabilitation and duration of sentence already served.
The accomplice’s release was subject to conditions, such as being subject to electronic monitoring and having to abide by curfew hours.
- How to Write a Letter of Representation to AGC in Singapore
- What is Entrapment and is It Legal in Singapore?
- Juvenile Crime: What If Your Child is Arrested in Singapore?
- Police Investigation Process in Singapore
- Arrest Warrant Issued Against You in Singapore: What to Do
- Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
- Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
- What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
- Can the Public Make a Citizen's Arrest in Singapore?
- What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
- "Right to Remain Silent" to Singapore Police: Does It Exist?
- Police Custody in Singapore: What You Should Know
- Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
- Penalties for Lying to the Authorities in Singapore
- Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
- Extradition: What If I Flee After Committing Crime in Singapore
- What is Acquittal & How Can One Be Acquitted in Singapore?
- Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
- Claiming Trial as an Accused
- Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
- The Defence of Unsound Mind in Singapore: What is It?
- Gag Orders in Singapore: Whose Identity Can be Protected?
- Mitigation Plea: How to Plead for Leniency in Court in Singapore
- Recidivism: What Happens If You Reoffend in Singapore?
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
- Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Revision in Singapore
- Presidential Clemency in Singapore
- Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
- Criminal Records in Singapore
- Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
- Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
- How Long Is Life Imprisonment in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- Corrective Training and Its Consequences in Singapore
- Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
- Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
- How Can Adult Offenders Get Probation in Singapore?
- Reformative Training in Singapore: When Will It be Ordered?
- Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
- Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
- 7 Detention Orders in Singapore: When Will They be Ordered?
- Day Reporting Order: Eligibility and Offender's Obligations
- Ragging and Bullying: Their Penalties and What Victims Can Do
- Laws Protecting Informers/Whistleblowers in Singapore
- Counterfeit Medicine/Health Products: Redress for Victims in Singapore
- Using Your Right to Self-Defence When Attacked in Singapore
- Compensation for Crime Victims in Singapore: How to Obtain
- Rape Laws in Singapore and How Offenders Can Be Punished
- Sexual Misconduct in Singapore: Offences and What Victims Can Do
- Falsely Accused of Rape in Singapore: What to Do
- Incest and Family Sexual Abuse: Penalties and Victim Protection
- How are Sexual Offenders with Special Needs Penalised?
- Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
- Consent in Sexual Offences in Singapore and What Victims Can Do
- Accused of Molest: Outrage of Modesty in Singapore
- What Can Victims of Sexual Harassment in Singapore Do?
- What is the Law on Sexting in Singapore?
- Revenge Porn: What If Your Nudes are Leaked in Singapore?
- Crime of Voyeurism in Singapore (Penalties and Defences)
- Date Rape: What to Do If Your Drink Has Been Unlawfully Spiked?
- STDs: Can I Go to the Police If a Partner Infected Me in Singapore?
- Singapore's Legal Smoking Age & Common Smoking Offences
- Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
- Legal Drinking Age and Drinking-Related Laws in Singapore
- Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
- Child Pornography in Singapore: Offences and Penalties
- Laws on Procuring Sex Workers & Sexual Services in Singapore
- Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
- Gambling Legally (In Public or Online) in Singapore
- The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
- Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
- Committing Robbery in Singapore: What are the Penalties?
- Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
- Vandalism Laws: Penalties for Damaging Property in Singapore
- Criminal Trespass in Singapore: What Happens If You’re Caught?
- Penalties for Littering and Killer Litter Offences in Singapore
- Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
- DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
- What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
- Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
- Penalties for Dangerous Driving for Singapore Drivers
- Fatal Traffic Accidents: Are Drivers Always Punished?
- Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
- Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
- Radicalisation and Terror Attack-Related Penalties in Singapore
- Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore
- Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
- Racial Enmity: Sections 298 and 298A Penal Code Explained
- Religious Cults in Singapore: Are they Illegal? Penalties & More
- Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore
- Here are the Penalties for Committing Forgery in Singapore
- Arson and Fire-Related Offences and Their Penalties in Singapore
- Laws on Prohibited, Replica and Self-Defence Weapons
- Expats Charged With Offences in Singapore: What to Expect
- What are the Penalties for Hiring Phantom Workers in Singapore?
- Penalties for Illegal Immigration and Overstaying in Singapore
- Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore