Death Penalty – Still Relevant?

Did you know that some ang-mos describe Singapore as “Disneyland with a death penalty”? Yeah, that sounds about right. Ask any Singaporean what is the first word that comes to mind when they hear death penalty and I dare say the answer is generally drugs. Seen the white immigration card for visitors of Singapore? Straight up warning: DEATH for drug traffickers under Singapore law. So, why bring this up?

Death Penalty for drugs

In May 2010, Mr Ridzuan was found in possession of 72.5 grams of heroin. In 2013, Singapore’s High Court passed the death sentence on him for possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking. He was scheduled to be executed by hanging earlier this morning.

Lo and behold, Human Rights Activist and Founder of Singaporean Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADP) M Ravi delivered a petition yesterday (Thu) to President Tony Tan to cancel the Warrant of Execution for Mr Ridzuan’s execution. By the way, I didn’t know you can suka suka walk up to the Istana to hand deliver the petition. Anyway, the President through his Principal Private Secretary not replied back to M Ravi that the President “will not be making a reference to a tribunal under Article 100 of the constitution”.  Then M Ravi also submitted an official complaint to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions claiming that the execution was a breach of Customary International Law.

How I know all these? Just follow M Ravi’s Facebook page lah.

By the time you read this, I am not sure of the fate of Mr Ridzuan but I would like to think that the country is divided. Some will say, give him a 2nd chance while others will say Do the Crime, Pay the Time” or in this case, face the consequences.

You will be forgiven if you think that capital punishment is outdated but recently Singapore completed the review of mandatory death penalty. In fact, Minister Shanmugam, in his no-nonsense approach, shared that one of the broad objectives for the review is the continued strong stance on crime.

“Where many other countries have failed, Singapore has succeeded in keeping the drug menace under control. Singapore’s homicide rate is one of the lowest in the world, and we believe that the deterrent effect of the death penalty has played an important part in this. Our tough approach to crime has resulted in crime rates which are significantly lower than many other major cities,” he said. “Young children can take public transport by themselves. Women can move around the city freely. We have no gun violence, no protection rackets, no drug pushers on the streets, no inner-city ghettoes. Citizens and visitors alike feel safe, in and out of home, at all hours of the day. This is something enjoyed by few cities in the world. This is something we should seek to preserve.”

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean also added “The death penalty has been an important part of our criminal justice system for a very long time, similar to the position in a number of other countries. Singaporeans understand that the death penalty has been an effective deterrent and an appropriate punishment for very serious offences, and largely support it. As part of our penal framework, it has contributed to keeping crime and the drug situation under control.”

And then I leave you with this.

In response to arguments by Nominated MP Kok Heng Leun and MP Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) against capital punishment, saying they should focus on the victims instead of “just crying with the people in the death row”, Minister Shanmugam rebutted by sharing the 2006 murder of 2 year old Nurasyura, whose drug abusing stepfather, dunked her into a pail because he could not stand her crying. In another instance, 6 year old Edy was dumped in the Kallang River by a drug abuser who was caring for him while his parents were in jail for drugs.

Shanmugam added “In public policymaking, you need a soft heart, you need compassion, and that is what defines a civilised human being, but you can never have a soft head. If the heart alone rules policy, you are done for.”

Makes me wanna stand up and clap for him. While we applaud the efforts of M Ravi and grieve with the close friends and relatives of Mr Ridzuan…the fact remains. The hard right vs the easier wrong. Word.

Mr Ji Pa Ban – Rise of The Strawberry Generation (RTSN)

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Source of Feature image: Amnesty International


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