Since the execution of Muhammad Ridzuan bin Md Ali last Friday, activists like M Ravi and Kirsten Han have been busy trying to stir the indignation of Singaporeans over the use of the death penalty in Singapore for capital crimes. Unfortunately, as hard as they tried, Singaporeans were not too bothered.
So why were Singaporeans not bothered?
Was a lack of empathy the cause?
(Article contributed by Jack Tan. If you have an article to share, please PM us https://www.facebook.com/RiseofTheStrawberryNation)
Seriousness of Drug Offences. Don’t Forget the Innocent Victims
Well, if you look at the sentiments online, the lack of empathy was not the issue. Online sentiments showed that Singaporeans firmly believe in the use of the death penalty for drug offences. This is because many felt that drug abuse is not something that only affects the abuser, but also the families and society at large. The 72.5g of heroin that Ridzuan trafficked would have given the equivalent of 6,000 straws which would feed the addiction of 800 abusers for 1 week. Assuming that each abuser had a family of 4, this 72.5g would impact the lives of 3,200 Singaporeans. The numbers, the pain and the anguish caused is not trivial.
Extended Due Process Involving 4 Appeals
Additionally, contrary to what M Ravi and Kirsten Han want Singaporeans to think, the judicial process leading to the eventual execution of Ridzuan was fair, transparent and based on established laws.
Specifically, Ridzuan was convicted of trafficking in 72.50 grams of diamorphine and sentenced to death by the High Court in April 2013. In Feb 2014, Ridzuan appealed to the Court of Appeal against his conviction. His appeal was dismissed. Ridzuan’s counsel then applied for leave to commence judicial review proceedings in Apr 2014. This too was heard and dismissed in July 2014. In August 2014, Ridzuan filed another appeal against the judge’s decision to dismiss the application for leave to commence judicial review proceedings.
This appeal was also considered and dismissed in Oct 2015. In January 2016, Riduzan (and 3 other persons on death row) filed a criminal motion that the use of the death sentence was unconstitutional. Once again, the Court of Appeal dismissed the criminal motion in Dec 2016. In short, Ridzuan had filed multiple appeals against his sentence which were heard and dismissed.
Why was Abdul Haleem Spared and Not Ridzuan
While M Ravi argues that it is unfair that Ridzuan was sentenced to death but Abdul Haleem bin Abdul Karim was spared, the fact of the case is that both Ridzuan and Abdul Haleem were jointly charged and convicted for the capital offence of trafficking in 72.50 grams of pure heroin.
In view that after Abdul Haleem’s arrest, he had substantively acted to assist the CNB in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore, the trial judge exercised his discretion and sentenced Abdul Haleem to life imprisonment with 15 strokes of the cane for the drug trafficking.
However, as Ridzuan did not substantively assist CNB in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Singapore, the trial judge was duty bound to sentence Ridzuan to the mandatory death sentence for the capital offence.
Harder Right than Easier Wrong
While M Ravi, Kirsten Han and a handful of other Singapore activists try to politicise the execution of Muhammad Ridzuan bin Md Ali, the fact remains that Singapore has as principle, chosen the harder right over the easier wrong to protect the lives of all Singaporeans. M Ravi and Kirsten would do well to also spare a thought for innocent victims.