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Generalisations With Capital Punishment In Singapore

His first clemency plea was unsuccessful and now convicted drug mule Yong Vui Kong’s last chance to escape death lies in the President’s hands, after the highest court in the land dismissed his appeal” (Convict’s Last Chance To Escape Death, Mr. Teo Xuanwei).

I have been following Mr. Yong Vui Kong’s case and proceedings with tremendous disappointment and empathy; and Mr. Teo Xuanwei’s report “Convict’s Last Chance To Escape Death” (May 15, 2010) seemed like the final nail to the coffin. Singapore has constantly been in the spotlight for its unforgiving stance towards drug traffickers; similarly, this case involving Mr. Yong has attracted much dissent and controversy.

The subject of capital punishment – as a moral issue – would continue to draw its fair share of proponents and opponents. Supporters assert the need for strong deterrence and reprisals, pointing to Singapore’s security; while others explain the inhumanity of the sentence and propose more viable alternatives. Yet, one must be cognisant that public opinion on capital punishment is often generalised, without taking into account the individual offences that have death prescribed as the punishment. For instance, in the theoretical absence of   wrongful executions, most are in favour of the death penalty for extremely serious offences under the Penal Code, such as murder.

However, when it comes to the Misuse of Drugs Act, many do not see how the execution of a drug runner or mule is a sustainable option to stem the flow of drug trafficking. The smuggling organisations and drug barons – who are clearly unaffected in any way – would see incentives in continuing their operations. They take advantage of youths from impoverished backgrounds, and use their ignorance to great lengths in transportation and sales. Essentially, the execution of a drug pawn has little significance in addressing the larger drug trafficking issues; conversely, it has disproportionate emotional ramifications on the individual’s family and friends.

No one is denying the consequences of allowing drugs to spread unabatedly. Nonetheless, genuine efforts should be targeted at working with regional authorities to get to the root of the drug problem rather than dealing with peripheral distractions. For Mr. Yong: give him a second chance, grant him a way out, and similarly send a strong message to youths who might be tempted to join the drug trade to think twice.

At the moment, I hope that the President would give serious consideration to Mr. Yong’s unfortunate plight and background; and give him a chance to jumpstart his life in the right way. Looking beyond, Singaporeans should emerge from their indifference towards the issue and not be afraid of establishing their moral compasses and perspectives. Emerging sentiments from the ground would provide the much needed impetus for the administration to re-think aspects of capital punishment, and inject greater flexibility to the judicial system.

A version of this article was published in TODAY.

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About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.

Discussion

8 thoughts on “Generalisations With Capital Punishment In Singapore

  1. When there are genuine and verifiable reasons, detaining an offender ‘at his pleasure’ is not an illogical decision for the president to make.

    The long list of drug mules strongly suggests to any reasonable and rational person that it does not work. For reasons already stated by many – the real trafficker is left untouch and has NO REASON to continue with his dispicable crime and exploitation of the poor, naive, ignorant and desperate.

    Taking a life by the Singapore govt appeared to have become a routine. It is lamentable, it is sad and it is a failure to stop the exploitation.

    Posted by George | May 17, 2010, 11:19 am
  2. Please replace my post with this, due to errors:

    When there are genuine and verifiable reasons, detaining an offender ‘at his pleasure’ is not an illogical decision for the president to make.

    The long list of drug mules executed here strongly suggests to any reasonable and rational person that it does not work. For reasons already stated by many – the real trafficker is left untouched and has NO REASON to continue with his despicable crime and exploitation of the poor, naive, ignorant and desperate.

    Taking a life by the Singapore govt appears to have become a normal routine. It is lamentable, it is sad and it is a failure to stop the exploitation.

    The govt is in effect hanging someone because he was poor.

    Posted by George | May 17, 2010, 11:23 am
  3. Thousand apologies. Pse amend again to:

    For reasons already stated by many – the real trafficker is left untouched and has NO REASON not to continue with his despicable crime and exploitation of the poor, naive, ignorant and desperate.

    Posted by George | May 17, 2010, 11:26 am
    • I’m a little confused with your amendments, haha, so do pardon me for not editing them because I do get the main gist of your argument and contention.

      And yes, the point with executing drug mules would have little significant impact on the regional drug trade as a whole. The real dealers have continued incentive to just send more mules over to try their luck. Perhaps more effort should be directed to working with neighbouring police and investigation forces to crack down more efficiently. Though their complete eradication might not be possible, we can most certainly arrest their growth.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | May 19, 2010, 8:50 pm
  4. Just a quick point; because my opinions may have been construed by some of the TODAY readers.

    I am not proposing a complete eradication of the death penalty under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Instead, I would like to see more proportionate punishments meted out to drug-related offences which may have disproportionate influences. Case in point: the execution of a mule would have little impact on the drug trade in general.

    Jin Yao

    Posted by guanyinmiao | May 19, 2010, 8:54 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: The Singapore Daily » Daily SG: 17 May 2010 - May 18, 2010

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