Emboldened by the fledgling support, the campaigners hope to further galvanise public opinion at a time when the government is opening up and allowing the public to speak out more on controversial issues.
A candlelit vigil for Murugesu held at a local hotel this month attracted about 100 people -- activists and opposition politicians as well as ordinary citizens, many of whom bought and wore t-shirts opposing the death penalty.
The participants listened to speeches, poems and music such as Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dead Man Walking”, which was the soundtrack of a 1996 movie about efforts to save a death row convict in the United States.
“I feel that tonight’s event is a display of courage. I think we need the courage of a lot of people for things to change,” said Iris Koh, a music teacher who volunteered to sing at the evening vigil.
“I feel that courage is the only thing that can overcome death. I was quite scared (at first). However I’m a teacher so I also feel that the best example I can give is not through words but through deeds,” she told AFP.
Murugesu’s lawyer, M. Ravi, said fear in this famously tightly controlled city-state remained a concern preventing more people from openly supporting the campaign.
In an example of the extent authorities still monitor dissenters, an “open mike session” at the vigil in which the audience was invited to speak was abruptly ended just after the first speaker began to talk.