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.
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.
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
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 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.
- Police Investigation Process in Singapore
- When Can the Police Arrest Someone?: Arrestable and Non-Arrestable Offences in Singapore
- Police Arrest Procedure in Singapore
- Can a Civilian Arrest a Criminal in Singapore?
- Is Lying to the Police or Authorities an Offence in Singapore?
- Surrender of Passport to the Police and How to Get It Back
- What to Do If You’re Being Investigated for a Criminal Offence in Singapore
- Can You Say No to a Lie Detector Test in Singapore? And Other FAQs
- What Should You Do If You Witness a Crime in Singapore?
- Do You Have a "Right to Remain Silent" to the Police in Singapore?
- Extradition: What if You Flee after Committing Crime in Singapore?
- Warrant of Arrest: What to Do If It is Issued Against You in Singapore
- Search Warrant: The Issuance and Execution of It in Singapore
- Criminal Compensation in Singapore
- What Can I Do to Protect Myself in Self-Defence in Singapore?
- Claiming Trial as an Accused
- Mitigation Plea
- Pleading Guilty in Singapore: Consequences & Withdrawal of Plea
- Guide to Filing a Criminal Appeal in Singapore
- Presidential Clemency in Singapore
- Probation: Eligibility and Whether It Leaves a Criminal Record
- Reformative Training in Singapore: When will it be Ordered?
- Visiting a Loved One in Prison or On Death Row in Singapore
- 7 Detention Orders in Singapore and When Will They be Ordered?
- Consequences of Receiving a Stern Warning in Singapore
- Are You Eligible for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO)?
- Can I Represent Myself in a Criminal Court Case in Singapore and How?
- Caning in Singapore: Judicial, School & Parental Corporal Punishment
- Criminal Motion: What is It and How to File One in Singapore
- Getting Parole (Early Prison Release) in Singapore
- Repatriation or Deportation from Singapore: How Does It Work?
- Legal Age for Sex in Singapore and Common Sexual Offences
- 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)
- Is it illegal to visit prostitutes in Singapore?
- Is Watching, Downloading or Filming Porn Illegal in Singapore?
- Singapore's Drug Laws: Possession, Consumption and Trafficking
- When Can You Legally Gamble (In Public or Online) in Singapore?
- Is Vaping Illegal in Singapore?
- DUI: Here are the Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
- Legal Drinking Age in Singapore and Other Drinking-Related Laws
- Singapore's Legal Smoking Age and Common Smoking Offences
- The Offence of Human Trafficking in Singapore and Its Penalties
- Murder vs Culpable Homicide in Singapore: What's the Difference?
- Is Suicide Illegal in Singapore? Will I be Punished for Trying?
- Is it illegal to feed stray animals in Singapore?
- Criminal Intimidation: Penalties for Making Threats in Singapore
- What are Sham Marriages and Are They Illegal in Singapore?
- Public Assemblies and Processions in Singapore: Police Permits and the Public Order Act
- What is the Offence of Rioting?
- Voluntarily Causing Hurt Penalties in Singapore (Non-Arrestable)
- Misbehaving in Public: 5 Things You Need to Know
- Is it Legal for Drivers to Carpool in Singapore?
- Complete Guide to E-Scooter and PMD Laws for Singapore Riders
- Is Joining a Gang Illegal in Singapore?: Being Recruited and Penalties
- What Happens If You’re Caught Speeding in Singapore?
- Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
- Penalties for Committing Theft in Singapore
- Road Rage: What is It and How are Offenders Sentenced in Singapore
- Singapore Fake News Laws: Guide to POFMA (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act)
- Laws and Penalties for Doxxing in Singapore (With Examples)
- Littering and Killer Litter Offences: Here are the Penalties in Singapore
- Organised Crimes: Penalties/Orders Syndicates Face in Singapore
- Animal Cruelty in Singapore: Offences, Penalties & How to Report
- Penalties for Dishonest Misappropriation of Property in Singapore
- Penalties for Financing Terrorist Operations in Singapore