Former prisons hangman Darshan Singh dies after Covid-19 infection, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper
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Former prisons hangman Darshan Singh dies after Covid-19 infection

Darshan Singh, 89, Singapore's longest-serving prisons executioner, was well respected, says ex-colleague

Former prisons hangman Darshan Singh died early yesterday morning, aged 89.

Mr Singh, who was warded on Oct 16 in Yishun Community Hospital for a lung infection, died of Covid-19 complications, said his granddaughter Poojaa Gill.

She added that her grandfather, who had diabetes and dementia, had received his second vaccination dose on Oct 1.

"The hospital called us about 15 minutes (before he died) and told us he was sinking.

"We last saw him as a family on Thursday night through a zoom call arranged by the hospital. That was when we learnt he was at the tail end," she added.

"We could not visit him in person because of current Covid-19 restrictions."

Her father, Mr Farouk Darshan Singh Gill, said: "I knew my dad as a strong man. He always told me, 'If you're afraid, don't do it. But if you want to do it, don't be afraid'.

"He told me to always speak my mind. I'm just like him. We both have a strong character."

A career prison officer who joined the service in 1957, Mr Singh was the longest-serving prisons executioner.

He helped in the 1965 execution of 18 former secret society gangsters convicted for their part in the prison riot tragedy at Pulau Senang in 1963. The incident resulted in the death of the prison superintendent and two other prison staff on the island.

Mr Singh was involved in the execution of a number of convicted drug traffickers and murderers, including Sunny Ang and the seven men convicted for the Gold Bar murders in 1974.

Ang's case was notable as he was convicted for killing a woman at sea in 1965, although her body was never found.

Among the women Mr Singh executed was Mimi Wong, then aged 33. She was the first woman to be hanged in independent Singapore.

Wong, who was executed in 1973, was found guilty of killing her Japanese lover's wife.

UNIQUE

In an earlier interview, Mr Singh described her as one of the most difficult prisoners on death row. She kept her unique personality to the end.

"She was smiling on her way to the chamber and, after execution, the smile was still on her face," he had said.

Convicted killer Anthony Ler, who was hanged in December 2002, was one of Mr Singh's last executions.

Ler had hired a youth to kill his wife Annie Leong, 30, at a time when the couple was in the midst of a divorce.

Mr Singh was no longer retained as executioner in 2005, after four decades as a hangman.

Asked once if he missed his job, he said: "Yes, I know how to keep them happy. I know the art of giving them a good drop."

Retired prisons assistant director A. Muthucumarasamy, 89, who joined the service at the same time as Mr Singh in 1957, said: "He had a good heart and was a nice fella.

"We first played hockey together in the combined schools team in Selangor where we came from then.

"All the prisoners respected him. He had no position, but he had power. I remember him as a very colourful character and we don't get them anymore."

Mr Singh is survived by his wife, Madam Jeleha Haji Said, whom he married in 1960, several children and grandchildren.

His funeral took place yesterday afternoon at the Muslim cemetery in Choa Chu Kang.

Death