Imagine: You have been arrested by the police on drug smuggling charges. Under Singaporean law that is an automatic death sentence hanging over your head as you head into trial.
You are poor; you are desperate for some kind of legal defense to be mounted for you in court. Because you know it literally is a matter of life or death. But you are unable to afford a lawyer to speak for you in court. The state does not accord you with legal counsel and so you basically are standing trial without any legal representation.
You are in court, on trial for your life. The attorney general presents a case that you know is missing some facts but you are unable to present because you have no lawyer. The trial that determines if you live or die ends with practically a no contest. Because of the mandatory death penalty, the judge has no choice but to sentence you to death by hanging, unable to consider another option regarding your sentencing. You are now a dead man walking, your life is literally on the clock. All hope is lost to you and your family is devastated by your fate.
Then a sliver of hope appears before you. A crusading lawyer takes up your appeal. He tirelessly fights tooth and nail to try to mount a case for you, just so you not only have your day in court, but so that you may have one more chance at life despite of whatever mistakes you may have made. He manages to buy you sometime, a reprieve to live a little longer because he mounted a constitutional challenge on the mandatory death penalty even though it is unclear if he will succeed in getting your sentence commuted.
Your lawyer invests his time, money and heart into trying to save you because he believes in the sanctity of life and that everyone deserves to have their day in court. He is a humanist who believes that everyone deserves their shot at justice, and it is this belief in doing what he feels is right that keeps him going. Despite all of the scorn that he may and will receive from his peers and society just for helping someone they see as a condemned and unrepentant criminal. He is one of the few lawyers in the country who is willing to take up cases like yours instead of spending his time advancing his position in society. His name is M Ravi.
Thanks to M Ravi’s efforts, you now have a little more time to make peace with yourself and your family. To spend just a little bit more time with the people who love you. You know that it is still likely that you will be executed in the future, but you at least have a slight hope that your ultimate fate might be changed because one man took up the fight for your life on your behalf.
Now if you were in this situation. Would you consider the temporary reprieve from the gallows as a form of false hope (link)? I would not and I would be glad for the extension on my life.
Personally, M Ravi is one of the most honorable and bravest men I ever have known in my life. He is someone I know who will always keep fighting for me if I am ever caught in a hopeless situation. And for that, I am thankful to know that there is someone like him. And it is something that we as a society should be grateful for. To have a person of unlimited compassion who would fight for any of us if we ever need it.
Note from editor: For capital cases involving the death penalty, if anyone is unable to afford a lawyer, the state assigns one to him. This is standard practice. The scheme is the Supreme Court Legal Assistance Scheme which caters to these cases. For non-capital cases, if one is unable to afford a lawyer, he can apply for legal aid.