05 November 2005

On Capital Punishment

Well, I am not supposed to be blogging about socio-political issues, so I will keep this post short. The young Australian Nguyen Tuong Van has been in the news recently - he had been sentenced to death for drug trafficking and the government of Singapore has refused to commute the sentence. Now anti-capital punishment groups are getting into action here in Singapore, organising events and so on. Read Omeka Na Huria or Singabloodypore for more details.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I don't like the death sentence myself. But among these Nguyen Tuong Van supporters, I sense that there is a lack of clarity in thinking. Many of these people haven't really worked out for themselves where they really, really stand. They say that they are absolutely against the death sentence and that Amnesty International says that the death sentence is a violation of human rights etc etc. That's all good and well, but ...

... where were they when Took Leng How was sentenced to death for killing Huang Na, an eight-year-old little girl? How come they didn't organise a solidarity event for Took?

See, if as a matter of principle, you stand against capital punishment all the way, then you can't pick and choose your convicts. You can't say, "Ooh, I hate people who kill children, I shan't support Took. But Nguyen looks like a handsome young man and he has a twin-brother sob story, so I'll support him. Shanmugam Murugesu has two kids and a poor old mother - I'll support him too."

That's nonsense. If you stand against capital punishment - you stand all the way (like Amnesty International does). It shouldn't matter what the crime was, or whether the criminal has a sob story or looks handsome or not - you stand all the way. On the basis that a life is a life. Took's life is a life too.

I'll be very impressed if along with calling on the Singapore government to commute Nguyen Tuong Van's death sentence, those folks in Singapore also call on Took to be spared the death sentence (I'm assuming Took hasn't been hung yet). But somehow I don't see that happening. Do you?

65 comments:

MY said...

Perhaps because one directly and brutally murdered another, while the other indirectly harmed another, with their consent anyway.

mrdarren said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mrdarren said...

I disagree with Mr Wang. I do not believe in absolutes. One can support the death penalty for murderers and at the same time oppose the death penalty for drug traffickers. Drugs do not take lives as murderers do. Capital punishment for drug trafficking is way out of proportion with the crime committed. Thus, although I believe that a murderer who fails to establish any legal defence (therefore kills without excuse) deserves the death penalty, it is not inconsistent for me to oppose the death penalty for drug trafficking, simply because there is no proportionality between the crime and the punishment. Furthermore, it just FEELS (moral/ethical?) wrong to hang someone for trafficking drugs. The drugs trade will exist as long as there is a demand for drugs. Shooting (killing) the messenger (trafficker) does not address the cause of the drugs problem. There will always be folks desperate enough to be exploited by the druglords, regardless of the harshness of the death penalty. As a deterrence to would-be drug traffickers, I feel the death penalty fails miserably. I agree Singapore should adopt a firm stand on the drugs problem, but a mandatory death penalty for drug traffickers is an unduly harsh and cruel punishment. Mr Wang, what do you think?

mrdarren said...

Just a curious note, although under Singapore's Constitution, the President has a power to grant clemancy (show mercy) to death-row prisoners, did any President, past and present, exercise his power to excuse a convicted drug trafficker from the death penalty? Sadly, I suspect the answer is no. Is a drug trafficker really as morally culpable as a cold blooded murderer and deserves no mercy under any circumstances?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Dear MrDarren

You only think you disagree with me.

Indeed it is possible to support the death penalty for murderers while opposing it for drug traffickers. If however this is indeed the position which the Nguyen Tuong Van supporters take, then they have gone astray.

For these supporters keep relying on Amnesty International as support for their case - when in fact AI's position on the death penalty does NOT support their case.

AI does not say, "It's okay to hang murderers, but not okay to hang traffickers." AI says, "It is NOT okay to hang ANYONE." Whether a Nguyen or a Took or a Saddam.

If the Nguyen supporters' own position is at odds with AI, then they are either acting stupidly, or acting dishonestly, in constantly mentioning AI.

mrdarren said...

Well, some Nguyen supporters may honestly feel justified in opposing the death penalty per se. Thus, they align with AI's position. Who are we to criticise their principled stand as stupid? That said, I do think there are many Nguyen supporters, like me, who support the death penalty for murderers while opposing it for drug traffickers. What is your position on the mandatory death penalty sentencing for drug traffickers? Do you think Nguyen should be saved?

Mr Wang Says So said...

From the spiritual perspective, I object to the death penalty in every instance. Of course, my spiritual beliefs by themselves are not going to be able to change the law.

mrdarren said...

Dear Mr Wang,

Thank you for your replies. I understand and share your sense of helplessness in reforming unjust laws.

However, our law as it exists now, allows for the President to grant clemancy to Nguyen. This is Nguyen's only chance of living. We should all rally behind the Nguyen's supporters, even though we may have different ideological reasons for our stand against the death penalty.

In the long run, I remain optimistic that we can lobby for Parliament to amend existing laws. Laws should reflect society and what Singaporeans stand for. Afterall, a (unique) democracy by any other name, would work as well.

singaporean said...

1) Some may think drug trafficking is a victimless crime. You try telling that to families of people who were robbed and murdered by junkies for drug money. Heck, you try telling that to the drug addicts, if you know any. Not that I spent a lot of time with drug addicts, but I used to run the urine test regime in my army unit, and I know that eventually, most "rehabilitated" drug abusers fresh out of prison/detention barracks will return to their old ways. You can only consent to that first dose. After that, every cell in your brain is a slave.

2) It is true that if you know the right people, drugs may still be accessible in Singapore. But dont say the drug laws are ineffective unless you can find more shops selling drugs than pirated VCDs or sex services thinly masqueraded as foot massage.

3) From the drug mule point of view, if the penalty is death, they can refuse to do the job even if someone point a gun at his head. There has to be some amount of stupidity for Nguyen (or his handlers) to needlessly choose Singapore as a transit point, or perhaps he was set up to be caught anyway.

4) After saying all that, I have to confess I hate seeing Nguyen die, only because he was not trafficking drug INTO Singapore. He was merely in transit, and wasnt posing a direct threat to Singaporeans, ie this is not about a nation killing in self defence.

5) And unlike AI, I actually think the death penalty as the ultimate punishment is not ultimate enough. For really serious offences, like say mulitple murders, I suggest flogging before hanging, death by a thousand cuts etc. Spiritually, I think I am so going to hell.

MY said...

1) For that we should murder all drug addicts.

2) I doubt killing nguyen or any future trafficker will stop anymore from trying.

3) Really desperate people do stupid things before considering the consequences too much. You just haven't experienced that point of desperation before...

4) A civilised nation shouldn't kill someone in "self-defence". How about killing all drug addicts and smokers to defend all the families of people that could potentially be mugged or breathe in second-hand smoke and die of lung cancer, etc, without giving them a chance? Those families are innocent too.

5) Cold-blooded murderers deserve no forgiveness. Like you said, they should also be torn apart by five horses (chinese idiom).
But a mere foolish person, who was used by another in a moment's folly, certainly do not deserve such harsh a punishment.
When he agreed to carry the drugs, all in his mind was probably how he could save his relative, and not much about the people who would be eager to get the drugs. He is just a middleman. The ones who deserve death more are either the drug lords, or the drug addicts.

Besides, Singapore's laws are mostly screwed up. Look here:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sg_Review/message/2000

mrdarren said...

Dear Singaporean,

I fully agree with you on point (1) - Drugs are evil, highly addictive and destroys families.

I disagree with you on points (2) and (3).

(2) There is scarce availability of drugs in Singapore. This must be a sign that the death penalty for drug trafficking is an effective deterrence. (I paraphrased you)

Of course, there is a deterrence effect to any punishment for drug trafficking. Harsh penalties and swift enforcement would greatly deter drug trafficking. We should take a tough stand on drug trafficking. It is a horrible crime that must not go unpunished. However, the rational question remains: Will imposing lengthy jail terms, harsh fines and more caning be equally effective (and more humane) as the death penalty in deterring drug trafficking?

At first glance, there is a simple co-relation between the scarce availability of drugs and the death penalty. However, there is no empirical evidence which proves that the death penalty DOES CAUSE a decrease in the availability of drugs. For example, the observation that dark clouds exist on rainy days: this observation is not helpful because we do not know if dark clouds do actually cause rain (See “Steven Levitt: Freakonomics: A Rouge Economist Explores The Hidden Side Of Everything” for a more eloquent explanation)

Therefore, the death penalty may not be the cause of scarce availability of drugs in SG. They could simply co-exist, analogous to the co-existence of dark clouds and rain. Could there be more direct causes?

a)Increased vigilance in customs inspection for drugs
b)Improved use of technology in drugs detection
c)Increased police manpower for Central Narcotics Bureau
d)Increased collaboration within ASEAN on sharing of information on drug trafficking rings
e)Stricter penalties against personal drugs consumption
f)Increased public education on dangers of drugs consumption

I deliberately ignored the effect of ANY punishment for drug trafficking on the availability of drugs. Factors (a) to (d) directly reduce the supply of drugs into SG. Factors (e) and (f) results in less demand for drugs, ergo, fewer incentives for drug-rings to risk trafficking drugs into SG.

Despite the perceived effectiveness of our death penalty, I have tried to illustrate other factors that do cause a substantial reduction in the availability of drugs.

(3) From the drug mule point of view, if the penalty is death, they can refuse to do the job even if someone point a gun at his head. There has to be some amount of stupidity for Nguyen (or his handlers) to needlessly choose Singapore as a transit point, or perhaps he was set up to be caught anyway.

Let us take the strongest case for the proposition that death penalty should be imposed for drug traffickers: Nguyen was caught smuggling drugs INTO SG and not using SG merely as a transit point.

Let us assume Nguyen knew of the death penalty in SG. Drug mules are often at the mercy of the drug-lords, who literally “point a gun” at their heads. In the case of Nguyen, not only was he threatened by the drug-lord, but I assume his brother was threatened too. Faced with immediate danger to himself and his family, drug mules do not have a practical choice but to accept the job, even at the risk of the death penalty.

If Nguyen did not know of the death penalty, tough luck for him, since ignorance of our laws is no excuse. But here, the effectiveness of the death penalty is highly suspect: how would the death penalty deter the unknowing and foolish Nguyen?

Ultimately, I do not believe that drug trafficking is a crime so morally reprehensible that every Nguyen deserves to die. The objective of promoting social, communal and Singaporean interests should not justify the taking away of Nguyen’s right to live.

Singaporean(s), what do you think?

Beach-yi said...

The wonders of a combination of screwy inductive and deductive logic displayed by Singaporean leaves me speechless...oh I forgot, there's no such thing as free speech in Singapore. Kekeke.

clyde said...

I think mrdarren pretty much covered it. Both on grounds of compassion and the pure statistical argument of the ineffective death penalty. With regard to Singaporean's point 1 however, I would like to see where society really draws the line between personal responsibility and the law. So far, comments seem to indicate that the fault is entirely of the drug-traffickers and the drug lords. What happened to educating people on drug abuse and are we doing enough to help kids stay off drugs? It reminds me of the debate over gun control laws in America after the Columbine tragedy. Do guns kill people? Or do people kill people. The balance has to lie somewhere in the middle.

Singaporean also wrongly assumes that the lack of drugs available in Singapore is a result of the death penalty. Wrong. The observed low drug availability does not mean few people are entering Singapore with drugs. It only means less of it actually make it to the streets and are seized instead at customs or police raids. The fact that Singapore still maintains the highest execution rate per capita, majority of which are associated with drug crimes, does little to show any real decrease in people convicted on drug charges in Singapore. Mrdarren has hypothesised very reasonable and realistic factors and very rightly points out that NO statistical trend indicates that the death penalty has been effective.

I gather that Singaporeans have a diverse view on the grounds of compassion. But I'm hoping that if enough people bother to look at the figures, it can easily become a common ground for many in fighting an injust law.

Molly Meek said...

Oh, the death penalty is very effective. Molly thinks it should be the only punishment for any crime (including sedition and defamation). Then we will have a very peaceful society. If people still commit crimes, it shows that they are not afraid of death. This basically means that they lack basic human survival instincts in the first place and will only hamper the evolution of the human species.

mrdarren said...

O Molly! funny =) Death penalty for every crime would be ineffective, but not for the lack of basic survival instincts. Rather, humans will always make mistakes and I don't think we will ever evolve into that perfect being. Won't that be the death of me?

sporescores said...

Have to agree with Mr Wang here. Where were all these people who condemn death as punishment when others were being hanged?

The issue here is whether or not the law is an effective deterrent. At least quote some studies on the effect of the death penalty instead of simplistic arguments like "oh he's only a small fry, we should just go after the boss", "oh he might not have known the seriousness of it", "oh life is precious, let's be compassionate" etc. These arguments can apply to a myriad other crimes punishable by death. Don't trivialise the minimising of the harm associated with the drug trade as "promoting social, communal and Singaporean interests". Has there been a Columbine in Singapore? Is that because people in Singapore are different? Or that there are fewer guns? Are you trying to say Americans are more violent by nature? Please...

If the death penalty is not an effective deterrent, then I'm all for its abolishment. But at least please let's discuss facts and figures.

mrdarren said...

Dear Sporescores,

You said, "These arguments can apply to a myriad other crimes punishable by death... let's discuss facts and figures."

The fact is, under our Penal Code, the only crimes punishable by death are attempts to murder, murders and "while committing or attempting to commit piracy he does any act that is likely to endanger the life of another person" (s130B). Try doing a CTRL-F for "punished with death". Unless you know for a fact that there are crimes outside the Penal Code which do not involve the taking of lives AND are punishable with death, I believe the arguments raised thus far are unique to drug trafficking.

Admittedly, I have not provided figures. Ideally, it would help everyone crystallize their arguments if we have the benefit of figures. However, is our Government providing statistical figures? I’m no statistician but I do try to stick to facts.

sporescores said...

mrdarren, what facts? You've simply expressed the opinion that drug trafficking is not a crime that warrants punishment by death. This is even though you've already admitted that drugs are highly destructive. And yet you seem to say that the penalty is disproportionate when it comes to drugs but less so when it comes to crimes like murder. Well, the fact is that drugs do kill, just not in the same quick way as with guns or knives. Your argument thus far has been mainly based on "it just FEELS (moral/ethical?) wrong".

You do not need to be a statistician to discuss facts and figures. If you want to back up your stand, you can quote a study that for example shows that the death penalty has the same deterrent effect as life imprisonment. In which case, I would say we should replace all death penalties with life imprisonment.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"... Unless you know for a fact that there are crimes outside the Penal Code which do not involve the taking of lives AND are punishable with death ..."

See Kidnapping Act and Arms Offences Act.

~~~~~~~~~~

Mr Wang is REALLY not supposed to write about sociopolitical issues anymore. So he will leave you with a few final thoughts on the matter. Feel free to carry on thereafter among yourself.

I have seen many criminal cases. There are numerous personal stories therein. Simple fact - if people had pleasant, happy lives and everything was working out nicely, they wouldn't be criminals. And as Gilbert Koh once put it in Shan's case, everyone has a poor old mother. Or in Nguyen's case - a sick brother. Why else would they commit the crime?

Compassion, in individual cases, only takes you that far. If your idea is that in certain cases, the President should commute death sentences on compassionate grounds, you place the President in an impossible position. If you knew the background of more actual criminal vases, you would know that the President would be in an impossible position. Everyone on death row has a poor old mother; has young, weeping children; is deeply remorseful; has finally found God / Allah / Buddha; was forced by circumstance; will never do it again.

So there are only two logical options for the President - commute all, or commute none. Right now, he's sticking with the latter option.

He cannot commute Nguyen's death sentence. If he commutes Nguyen's death sentence, then he will be pressed to commute the next guy, and the next guy, and the next guy. After all, they all have a sick brother / dying mother / three young children, and are deeply remorseful, and won't ever do it again, and were forced by personal circumstances.

malc said...

Perhaps my only gripe with the death sentence is the efficiency of which it is done. Assuming that the person accused is innocent, he is as good as dead before he could mount an appeal or look for more evidence after the judgement is passed. Though it seems weird, I would think that it is better if they were allowed to request for more time before the punishment is exacted. However, whatever they do in that period of time will have no bearing on the judgement unless they are to be able to prove themselves innocent for the said crime.

Death penalties are used as the ultimate deterrance to to certain crimes. Yes, it is extremely harsh. Yes, I agree that it should not be commuted for reasons like 'doing it for a sick brother' as the relation between that and the crime is is not that closely coupled.

Just wondering: What happens if you are forced to traffick drugs because you/some-you-care-about is being threathened in a very real manner (like by someone with a track record of murder or something)? What can be done to ensure the safety of yourself (both from him/her and the law) and your loved ones if you are already in possession of the drugs? How badly can the threathener get it from the law? Because I can just imagine that the threathener will be able to absolve himself easily in the eyes of the the law as, after all, the most that he did was 'threathen' if he is not found in possession of any more drugs.

mrdarren said...

I’m going to summarize my stand. My proposition is for abolishing the mandatory death sentence for drug traffickers, and in its place, impose long jail terms, mandatory caning and discretionary fines (“strict penalties”) for the offence of drug trafficking.

1) Deterrence value of death penalty

As a form of personal deterrence to the drug mule, imposing strict penalties is sufficient to discourage future drug trafficking.

As a form of public deterrence, there are no figures supporting the added deterrence value of the death penalty.

There is no proven greater deterrence value of the death penalty compared to strict penalties. I have tried to point out other important reasons why our streets have stay relatively drug-free. Please see my previous post.

The onus is on supporters of the death penalty to prove that there is an added deterrence value to justify killing the drug mule.

2) Proportionate punishment

It may be argued that the death penalty somehow works better than strict penalties as a form of public deterrence.

However, I do not believe that this ‘intangible’ public deterrence value is sufficient justification for the taking away of human lives. As a moral retributivist, I look at the moral culpability of the offender. Drug traffickers are far removed from murderers in mental blame. Punishing the drug trafficker with death is disproportionate to the harm caused by drugs.

Therefore, this intangible deterrence value of the death penalty should not override a person’s right to live. I do not subscribe to the utilitarian belief that a person’s life should be sacrificed for the greater good. The "ultimate punishment" should not be imposed lightly.

singaporean said...

1) If the sentence is too light, no amount of enforcement is sufficient. Just take a look at how pirated VCD vendors overwhelmed the legal system a few years back. Many of such vendors are minors (who can get away with light sentences) and ex-cons (who cant find a good job anyway and has no fear for prison). All these indicate to me that at least some potential criminals do make a cost benefit analysis before committing the act.

2) If the death penalty is overused, it will have undesirable outcomes as well. Take for example China, where you can be sentenced to death for white collar crimes like embezzling money, it actually encourages violent crimes. After all, you are a dead man if you caught, so why refrain from killing to cover up your crimes, for example. Or kill two or three or four or five or....

3) Singapore is among the rare few countries that is more compassionate towards addicts than traffickers. There had been many cases where addicts caught in possession of drugs talk their way out of the gallows by arguing that the bulk of the drugs are for personal consumption.

4) And as sporescores said, personal convictions and flowery logical deductions carries little weight. You have to show some facts, figures or studies to indicate that the death penalty is an ineffective deterrant. You have to guarantee that drug trafficking activity will not increase if the death penalty is removed.

Singapore is relatively drug-free. The onus is on those who wants to change the status quo to guarantee that Singapore will not degenerate into drug paradise.

Enforcement and the death penalty are not mutually exclusive; there is no evidence to indicate that Singapore is slacking on enforcement because there is the death penalty.

5) You cant educate foreigners.

6) And lastly, let me fish the Christians out of the argument. Within one chapter of engraving in stone, "Thou shall not kill", the God of Moses make a series of commands to put to death for a series of sins, among which, those who "curses their father or mother." (Exodus 21:17)

mrdarren said...

Dear Singaporean,

"If the sentence is too light, no amount of enforcement is sufficient."

No one is arguing for light sentences for drug traffickers. You are making a 'straw-man' argument that is directly off-point. We are talking about substituting the death penalty for strict penalties. To quote Mr Wang, you "are either acting stupidly, or acting dishonestly" in mentioning light sentences.

singaporean said...

Indeed, making personal attacks are far easier than tabling some facts or figures or studies. Good luck lobbying. I am not going to waste any more time with small kids. My one is already a handful.

Terrence said...

anybody here from Australia? in particular, Victoria? it's big news over here. you get to see it every night on the television. Alexander Downer appearing, and Johnny H. as well.

I'm not here to argue about the ethical rights behind it. I'm not going to say that "it's not ethical" or "it's not right" or "mummy says it isn't right."

I am here however, to talk about choice.

like what some of you may say, he was driven by a sob story to do what he did. the point is, he had a choice. he may have had a gun pointed in his head, but let's face it, having a gun pointed to your head to traffick drugs is as good as getting caught for trafficking drugs in Singapore. you're screwed either way.

as much as I sound really mean and uncompassionate, but like what lawyers will tell you, everybody has a dying old mother; a young brother to look after; insert other sob story here, but why don't they commit the crime? it's all about choice.

you do it, you live by the consequence of it. in the SAF, the famous saying of "do anything, don't get caught" holds true to outside life as well. if you want to traffick drugs, by all means go ahead. but if you get caught, nothing, not withstanding a hurricane hitting Singapore, will spare you from the gallows. because we are THAT strict.

and again, I re-iterate, I'm not talking about ethical issues here.

the Singapore government makes it a point to warn people rather bluntly about the consequences of drug trafficking. when you land in Singapore, regardless of the mode of transport, you are warned that trafficking drugs is an offence punishable by death. the government doesn't mask it with any type of flowery language. it goes straight to the point. death. not "decided by a tribunal" or "something very horrible." they go straight to the point, and they make it clear that it can't be interpreted in any other way but the way it is meant to be interpreted as. doing otherwise is done so at your own risk.

it's like waking up a sleeping lion and not expecting to be bitten. if you do get bitten, you did wake the lion up. so don't cry to mummy, because afterall, you were the one who woke up a sleeping lion.

pardon me if I sounded a bit harsh. just getting a bit sick of seeing the news everyday and having them countless street-styled interviews on whether it should be carried out or not.

I wonder if Ten or Nine will do a special on him, just like that they did with that Australian guy who was held hostage and rescued from Iraq a few months back.

Rialce said...

In my opinion, he will not be hanged afterall... It is just my feelings, cos Australia is a big country. Must give face mah...

clyde said...

Sporescores:

It would not hurt you to get off your armchair commenting. Those who have viewed the statistics will easily come to the same conclusion that NO trend proves that the death penalty has been effective. I am not going to mention the 'facts and figures' everytime I discuss this topic. A good place for you to start would be Amnesty International's latest report on Singapore's death penalty here:
http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/singapore/document.do?id=14C1E722FEE4F90E80256DFE0068898C
Read that, and then we can discuss facts and figures.

To be honest, I'm personally not aware of any case studies presented by the SG govt used to defend the death penalty. If anyone can cite an instance where they have actually done so, then please feel free to share. But if given the opportunity, I would definitely like to see greater transparency of execution statistics. Preferably those prior to the implementation of the death penalty. Or at least all recorded figures currently not released i.e. prior to 1991.

You've completely lost the ball on my analogy with gun control in America. I was simply illustrating how public opinion seems to place all the fault on the drugs and drug traffickers for destroying homes and families. What about the drug user? Is he at least the least bit responsible for taking up drugs in the first place? Let me put to you another example. Gambling addicts cause hardship and destroy families too. Yet we don't criminalise casinos. Why you ask? Simple. Money. Casinos are profitable evils and it is the only reason why one is being built in Singapore contrary to the country's long-standing conservative values.

And terrence says:
"it's like waking up a sleeping lion and not expecting to be bitten. if you do get bitten, you did wake the lion up. so don't cry to mummy, because afterall, you were the one who woke up a sleeping lion."

This logic is almost patronisingly simple to understand. Yet, it has no relevance at all to the discussion; why the death penalty is wrong. Yes, people should face consequences. But part of human rights is to draw the line at how far is too far when one is punished by law. I'm guessing that if your country decided they should start torturing convicts in the most painful and humiliating way, you would flinch. Human rights does not distinguish between torture and lawful execution. Its fundamental ideology that all humans including criminals should have the right to life. And that any type of execution, whether by hanging, electrocution, lethal injection, is degrading. And this is strictly personal opinion now; but how does one say it isn't when one has not witnessed an execution him/herself?

sporescores said...

Clyde, quoting a url is not the same as quoting a fact. There isn't any information in the article that shows that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent. There are probably better studies done in the US that question the deterrent effect of the death penalty i.e. it does not stop a person from committing a crime any more than other forms or punishment. I'm sure you can do better than that, since you obviously do not think of yourself as an armchair critic.

And don't try to cause a diversion by fingering the drug addicts. Are you seriously comparing someone taking drugs to someone trading drugs? Come on... But then again, you do seem to think that gun control doesn't help... tell that to the families of all those kids who died will you? Have you witnessed someone being shot by a retail gun or someone being destroyed slowly by drugs yourself? Talk about armchair commentary...

clyde said...

I fail to see how one calls another an "armchair" commenter when at least I have cited a reference with at least some statistical information. How you interpret it is another matter. What about you sporescores? You personally seem to be failing miserably at providing a case of your own, a statistic, or any type of finding that indicates the contrary,yet you are quick on the trigger to accuse mrdarren and peope alike of non-factual arguments. So sit in your armchair and comment on other people's comments if you will. But accusing people gets us nowhere unless you can dig something up to prove us wrong.

And sporescores, I never said that the Amnesty report is evident of an ineffective death penalty. I merely said that the data released by the Ministry of Home Affairs is not proof of an effective one. Two very different statements. Either way, I certainly wasn't hoping you would stop your own research at the Amnesty Report if you weren't an 'armchair' commenter...

There probably are better studies done elsewhere on the death penalty. But an important thing to know is that the effectiveness of the death penalty in one country may not be the same in another. If you had bothered to read more on the death penalty on the Amnesty website, you will find that studies have been done by the organisation that shows examples where the death penalty has been ineffective and in some instances, crime rates rose for the related crime after implementing the death penalty. But for a more conclusive result, what could be more accurate than data of Singapore's own execution rates before and after the implementation of the death penalty?

Of course I am not saying that an addict is equally guilty as a druglord and should face death. But when people say that "drugs and druglords destroy homes", this opinion somehow completely alienates the addict as a guilty party in at least some small way. I am amused at how you seem fond of construing my analogies. Again, gun control is not the focus of the issue at all. I never said or intentionally implied gun control is useless. The analogy was meant to illustrate that society cannot place responsibility in its entirety simply at one extreme. We cannot blame guns entirely just as we cannot blame drugs entirely. Gun-nuts are fond of saying "Guns dont kill people. People kill people" while people for gun abolishment say guns kill innocent people. I believe it lies in the middle. In between there are people who make bad choices. Someone decideds to shoot the gun, someone decides to make the drug, sell the drug, take the drug. One might say drug traffickers smuggle with the knowledge of the death penalty. Yet one also takes drugs with the knowledge that it is a crime and its associated risks. The trafficker gets one message over the PA during the inbound flight to Singapore about the death penalty while the drug user had an entire primary/secondary school education that teaches drugs are bad. Both make bad choices. Yet only one is looked down upon entirely by society while the other is sympathised with. I stress again, I am NOT saying addicts should join death row. Only unfair to think that drugs and traffickers are the sole reason for breaking homes.

I've thrown you the last bone. Enough with the armchair crap, sporescores. Go dig information on your own, and then come back and shoot down my argument with your facts and figures on the death penalty.

sporescores said...

Clyde, since you haven't made an argument about the death penalty being ineffective (especially by quoting that report which you admit doesn't even support this), I have nothing to shoot down. Having to educate people against taking drugs doesn't mean that we lighten the punishment on drug traders. I would have thought that this was clear enough.
Calling others armchair critics while making half baked analogies and statements yourself is something hypocritical that I won't do. At least be an armchair critic that makes sense like me. Failing that, do something concrete, like join a movement against the death penalty. Until you at least bother to explain why the death penalty is not effective, I shan't waste any more time on someone who makes no attempt to discuss the crux of the matter but instead throws up diversions about looking at users of drugs and guns.

mrdarren said...

Well said, Clyde. Indeed, I'm nestled in my armchair, eagerly awaiting for some facts and figures from sporescores.

mrdarren said...

sporescores,

Speaking of facts,

You wrote: "Well, the FACT is that drugs do kill, just not in the same quick way as with guns or knives." (emphasis is mine)

You seem to think that the punishment (death penalty) for drug trafficking is not disproportionate when compared to crimes like murder.

Well arguably, smoking cigarettes kill too, just not in the quick way as with guns or knives. I'm not trivializing the harmful effects of drugs; the cigarettes comparison is an extreme but necessary extrapolation of your logical fallacy.

Status quo: Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, anyone caught in possession of more than 15 grams of heroin (amongst others) is presumed guilty of being a drug trafficker and attracts a mandatory death sentence.

Would you care to explain your opinion: That 15g of heroin is comparable to the lethal and extremely grave consequences of an intentional crime committed with guns and knives (i.e murder)?

clyde said...

Oh boy, it sounds to me as if sporescores is becoming too blinded by fury for being labelled an armchair critic to digest wholely the simple arguments I'm puting forth. And there I was constructing my analogies with great effort...

Of course you have plenty to shoot down Sporescores. Admittedly, I was never making an argument that the the death penalty is ineffective and I'm glad you at least figured that out (I'm proud of you, really). But I was having to clarify most of my first comments instead which you construed so badly in the first place. So, having viewed the information at Amnesty's website, perhaps you could start of by defending yourself as to why you would think mrdarren's arguments were groundless in the first place. If you can find the strength to calm yourself, you will find, not surprisingly, that he has not stated that the statistics prove the death penalty inefficient either. I quote from mrdarren:

"...there is no empirical evidence which proves that the death penalty DOES CAUSE a decrease in the availability of drugs.'

When you talk of 'lightening' punishment on drug traders, you're making two mistakes. First, I never said or assigned the weight of justice to either party. I said that drug users should not be completely ignored from the equation of blame. Second, my motives for wanting the death penalty abolished even for drug-traffickers has nothing to do with drug users having to share responsibility. It goes back to ethical reasons and my argument that the death penalty has never been proven effective that officials are so fond of claiming.

Until you at least bother to explain why the death penalty is not effective, I shan't waste any more time on someone who makes no attempt to discuss the crux of the matter but instead throws up diversions about looking at users of drugs and guns."

Calling my analogies "half-baked" just because you fail to grasp them or bother to challenge them otherwise is not even a "put-in-the-oven" excuse to brush them off so easily. Consider your own arguments for once. You've ripped on mcdarren for "factless" arguments, yet you have not proven why that should be, given the information I so generously linked for you. How's that for half-baked? Or better still, how's that for hipocritical?

What a shame, honestly, here I was delighted to meet someone with as much fire, hoping you'd prove me wrong and convince me otherwise why the death penalty is effective.

geekgeek said...

If only it were so easy, that you could run a country and pass laws based on "feelings".

As is the case for almost everything, there will be "experts" who can "prove" the effectiveness of the death penalty, and there are those can "disprove" it.

Personally, I don't see how life imprisonment is any more humane or effective than the death penalty, but I suppose those nutters at AI would prefer to see human beings locked up like animals instead. Maybe someone should inform PETA about jails?

sporescores said...

Clyde, since you are at least making an attempt to discuss the issue, I'll take some time to enlighten you here.

"...there is no empirical evidence which proves that the death penalty DOES CAUSE a decrease in the availability of drugs."

Is this sufficient to say the death penalty is ineffective? Have you stopped to consider that the availability of drugs could actually have increased over time without the death penalty? Ok, maybe I've been a little lazy in elaborating, but I had thought that this was laughably obvious. Do think through your argument properly or I shan't bother to reply. Even an armchair critic has better things to do.

lbandit said...

There might be reasons why "anti-death penalty" supporters are always popping up in cases like Shanmugan and Nguyen but not Took.

Its because majority of the people have been brought up to think in terms of a life for a life. Same majority have also been brought up to think that a lack of life for a life is a lack of justice. Try imagining a 武俠 novel that doesn't contain a 殺父之仇. (Sorry, i can't think of direct translation for those mandarin characters)

Standing up for Took would then make them lose support from the majority rather than garner support.

It does seem dishonest to stand up for a few while keeping quiet on other cases. Like the anti-death penalty supporters are trying to capitalise on emotional sympathy. Kind of like a genre of TV shows that talks about peanuts.

But it does seems to me the more effective step towards abolishment of death penalty, for all crimes.

anonymous craven said...

First. Even if Singapore were to consider changing the penalties for drug trafficking, it should occur under proper parliamentary procedure in due course. Commuting Nguyen sends out the worst possible signal possible - that expats can escape the drug trafficking penalty that applies to Singaporeans; or that our sovereignty is easily compromised by external pressure.

He have to die, even if future convicts may escape the death penalty under revised legislation, and there's no other way about it.


Second. The argument about Nguyen being in transit is flawed. If the laws against trafficking does not apply to the transit lobby, then does it mean that we should tolerate traffickers swapping drugs and arms in there? Either our laws apply, and apply fully, or it doesn't.

Clearly it needs to apply, and apply fully.


Third. Whether the death penalty is appropriate for drug trafficking is a matter of differing opinions. There are no conclusive studies that can prove whether the abolishing of the death penalty will improve or worsen the drug situation in Singapore, in the short term and the long term.

What is apparent though, is that the current laws did create a Singapore that is largely clear of the scourge of drug addiction. For changes to apply to something that works, there is a need for conclusive evidence as well as compelling circumstances.

So far there are none.

Terrence said...

I agree. differing opinions it is. which is why I'm not taking part in the ideological/philosophical/getting quite out of hand and personal arguement that is taking place now.

I do feel that, however, it all boils down to choice. we all have a choice to do what we want to do. although some may argue against it, the only few things we don't have choices are are birth itself, and to a certain extent other genetic attributes *but that could soon change*.

in my humble opinion, and it is mine and mine alone *may be shared by others*, if it helps keep Singapore relatively drug free, why change a system? why fix a car if it ain't broken? yes drugs will still be available, if you know the resources and the correct people. we don't like in Planet Utopia. such vices will never be eradicated unfortunately. but, if it helps keep Singapore safe and sound, except for the occasional major drug lords running around, what more can you ask for? we should be thankful that we don't have drug addicts/drunkards walking around at 3am in the morning, needles all over the beaches, and toilets with purple lights to prevent people from "shooting up" in the toilet *come to Aussie land. St Kilda Beach in Melbourne. very bad case of needle infestation.*

yes, there has been no conclusive study to prove that capital punishments do not deter such cases. but who are we to say that if the non-existence of such punishment would encourage more crimes? I'm not a Law student, but isn't the Law made to protect the interest of the general public and the status quo of the system?

human rights issues. yes. who are we to decide who should live and who shouldn't? what level of comparisson do we have to judge against? I can only think of its justification with the social rammifications it could possibly have if such a problem was out of hand.

and as one commenter said, to paraphrase losely, "not executing may not necessarily mean higher drug rates." but seriously, would you want to take the risk?

crimes are known as crimes because, down to its impirical level, it's an ill towards society. like Agent Smith would say, it's a cancer in society. and it grows. 1st stage "cancers" could be things like petty theft, or armed break in, or trespass to personal propety via assault/battery/etc. a 4th stage terminal "cancer" could be something like drug trafficking and murder, and vicious rape. but ultimately, all of them are ills that society can afford not to have, and will probably be better off not having.

ultimately, such temptation of easy money, or the sheer desperation of people will drive them to do such things. and ultimately, it's their choice. if you made the choice conscientiously, you have to accept the consequences conscientiously. there's really no point crying over spilt milk, and approaching the Pope for help. do drugs, be prepared for impaired neurological functions. have casual sex, be prepared for STDs. get married, be prepared for increased finances. steal, and be prepared to do the time. traffick drugs, and be prepared for the death penalty.

yes, it's harsh. yes, it's brutal and gruelsome. and yes, I haven't witnessed an execution, and you people probably will never have *internet downloads of people getting their heads cut off by machete wielding terrorists don't count*. so let's not go down that avenue, because we're assuming that our point of views will change after witnessing one.

----

on a more economic sense, maybe the government encourages the death penalty for such crimes because, wouldn't it spend more money on keeping more inmates on life without parole? assuming that everybody's sentenced got changed to life sentences instead. wouldn't that add additional burden to the taxpayer's office? or does the prison run off a different welfare system that is supplemented by the GDP of Singapore? or something along those lines?

food for thought anybody?

Terrence said...

riacle....

we caned Michael Fay even though America kicked up a huge ruckus. :P

geekgeek said...

anonymous craven:

Yes unfortunately for Nguyen, the repeated appeals has done more harm to his cause than good. There is no way the Gahmen would back down now and "lose face" by bowing to pressure from the ang mohs.

mrdarren said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mrdarren said...

I disagree that the repeated appeals to pardon Nguyen's life have done more harm to his cause.

Realistically speaking, I accept that there is hardly any chance Nyugen's life will be spared. In fact, no death sentence for a drugs trafficker has ever been commuted. The Government has always insisted on a uniform enforcement of the mandatory death penalty for drug offences.

Are we being cruel in giving Nyugen false hope? Of course not. We should do our best for a worthy cause to save a man's life; after all, this is his only avenue of appeal left (even though this is purely a procedural appeal in practice).

Nyguen's cause stretches beyond the immediate urgency of saving his life. Nguyen's plight is not unique. There will always be people in Nyugen's shoes who will be executed under the same laws.

What the repeated appeals have achieved is to force Singaporeans to re-think SG's stand on the death penalty and the state of our national laws. There is hardly any debate or publicity of the death penalty in the local press. Figures are not made available by authorities to support the use of death penalty.

There does not seem to be much disagreement that the death penalty is a cruel and unusual punishment, especially when viewed in the context of the crime committed (Unless Sporescores disagrees on this point and would like to respond to my previous question directed to him).

Yet, the same people who readily admit so are quick to arrive at their conclusion that the death penalty is justified on the basis of protecting our society. That somehow, the death penalty has worked to prevent drugs from entering SG. That somehow, drugs will start pouring into SG if we replace the death penalty with life imprisonment. They fear the impact that abolishing death penalty will have on the availability of drugs inside SG. They demand figures to prove otherwise in order for the status quo to change.

Why adopt the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality towards laws? Why this “better safe, than sorry” attitude to the issue of a human’s right to live? Are we essentially being selfish (i.e. I-would-never-be-in-Nyugen’s-situation) and pandering to our unfounded fears?

geekgeek said...

Please do not confuse Nguyen's cause with the anti-death penalty supporters' cause. I think Nguyen and his family pretty much just want him alive, and all this talk about abolishing the death penalty, asking Singapore to rethink its stance, is all just icing on the cake. I mean do you seriously think Nguyen and his family are that concerned about passing on a legacy of causing Singapore to re-examine it's death penalty regime?

PS I hope you guys don't change your stance when the goverment suddenly announce that they want to compulsorily acquire your house because they need to build a new prison because their jails are full of murderers, rapists and drug traffickers on life sentences (read:20 year term)

clyde said...

"Is this sufficient to say the death penalty is ineffective? Have you stopped to consider that the availability of drugs could actually have increased over time without the death penalty? Ok, maybe I've been a little lazy in elaborating, but I had thought that this was laughably obvious. Do think through your argument properly or I shan't bother to reply. Even an armchair critic has better things to do."

Well Sporescores, as I mentioned in my previous comment, my argument to begin with never was that the death penalty can be proven ineffective, equally as much as it can't be proven effective (thanks to lack of transparency by the MHA). And it is the belief that the death penalty is efficient being thrown around so casually that people need to be wary of. You hypothesise that drug availability can increase over time without the death penalty. At least you've put it across as a question. But as I keep stressing, how would such claims ever be proven without the MHA being honest and transparent with the entire records of execution history? How does one think this laughably "obvious" without evidence? How do you explain why the death penalty has seen an increase in crime rate in some countries? And I emphasise the difference between "crime rate" and "number of crimes"; number of crimes can be expected to rise as population increases while still maintaining a fixed crime rate.

In thinking through my argument carefully, I can only hope the favour is returned by you reading through mine carefully. Afterall my past 3-5 comments have 95% of the time been to rectify my words you twisted and construed so badly.

Terrence says:
"I do feel that, however, it all boils down to choice. we all have a choice to do what we want to do. although some may argue against it, the only few things we don't have choices are are birth itself, and to a certain extent other genetic attributes *but that could soon change*.

in my humble opinion, and it is mine and mine alone *may be shared by others*, if it helps keep Singapore relatively drug free, why change a system?"


And there it is, the fundamental problem to how the government should handle public opinion. What if Singapore allowed citizens to vote on the abolishment of the death penalty? The entire population may not be convinced one way or the other, but it is a good start to begin a fair fight between pro and anti-death penalty.

Why change the system when it isn't broke? Who's to say it isn't? Singapore considers itself a developed country but yet fails to grasp and rectify human rights issues (or mention them at all in a general public forum). The death penalty is against international law. And how perfect is a system that makes decisions without informing their people well and not having them in the decision-making process? As you rightly pointed out, it should all eventually boil down to choice. Mrdarren once again eloquently puts it this way:

Why adopt the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality towards laws? Why this “better safe, than sorry” attitude to the issue of a human’s right to live? Are we essentially being selfish (i.e. I-would-never-be-in-Nyugen’s-situation) and pandering to our unfounded fears?

It's so easy for us to play judge in our comfy armchairs of life having been raised in good homes and families, and then easily dismiss someone's life just because "if we can stay out of trouble, why can't you". You compare the death penalty with "contracting an STD". The difference is, we can abolish death penalties. But not STDs. STDs are a punishment of nature, while the death penalty is a 'premeditated killing of a human being by the state that is a violation of human rights and a symptom of a culture of violence". (AI) Your argument terrence, imply that criminals have premeditated their own deaths by committing crime. Yet most murders in Singapore are crimes of passion or "heat of the moment". your arguments immediately assume that every criminal has thought out well the consequences of his actions as he is comitting the crime, whether he is killing another person, or trafficking drugs. As I mentioned before, it's so easy for us to play judge on our high horses.

You also assume that without the death penalty, Singapore would be crawling with druggies. Understand this, pro abolishment of the death penalty does not call for the law to simply let go of drug traffickers. It's this common paranoia by many Singaporeans that society is such a fragile "fabric". That replacing the death penalty with a jail-term would turn the country upside down and look something like [insert western city of your choice]. This is an unsubstantial claim that innocent convicts eventually have to pay the price of with their lives.

on a more economic sense, maybe the government encourages the death penalty for such crimes because, wouldn't it spend more money on keeping more inmates on life without parole? assuming that everybody's sentenced got changed to life sentences instead. wouldn't that add additional burden to the taxpayer's office? or does the prison run off a different welfare system that is supplemented by the GDP of Singapore? or something along those lines?'

That is indeed a good an important food for thought. Again, why isn't the government doing a more comprehensive study on the death penalty before flaunting the claim that is effective in both crime deterrence and on an economic stand-point of view. While it is not one that can independantly justify the death penalty or otherwise, it is certainly an important factor that should be in the decision-making process.

mrdarren said...

Geekgeek,

"PS I hope you guys don't change your stance when the goverment suddenly announce that they want to compulsorily acquire your house because they need to build a new prison because their jails are full of murderers, rapists and drug traffickers on life sentences (read:20 year term)"

On the other hand, at the current rate the Singapore government executes prisoners, we may have to start building more crematoriums, more columbaria and more cemeteries.

I do hope you reconsider your stand.

geekgeek said...

Haha good point =) But at least those 3 Cs of death can be used by everyone?

geekgeek said...

PS for those of you who believe in rehabilitation, ever wondered what happened to Michael Fay after he went back to the US? According to blogger Bluey who did an online search...he was caught in possession of marijuana in 1998 and fined US$500.

Well at least he learnt a valuable lesson: If you want to commit a crime, don't do it in Singapore!

Beach-yi said...

I said it once and I say it again, Singaporeans if they don't learn to be less vindictive and less haughty in all matters, should stay only in Singapore and not venture out anywhere because the world is just too unsafe for them.

Arguing without the full facts is just like playing air swords or guitar, entertaining but without substance. And moralising on a high horse should be a big no no, but then again, like the chinese saying, if the upper beams aren't straight, so must be the supporting pillars be crooked.

Lam Chun See said...

It is interesting what Mr Wang said; "From the spiritual perspective, I object to the death penalty in every instance."

Reminds me of a remark I read some months ago by a blogger who said; "Only God can take lives; therefore we should abolish death penalty."

Actually it should be the other way around. Only God can take life; therefore anyone who takes another person's life should forfeit his own life.

Like Mr Darren, I am against death penalty except for capital crimes.

mugster said...

Seems to me that people who are campaigning fail to sympathise with families of drug addicts. Human beings cause death by many ways, why focus on the actions which will result in the execution of one man? Has anyone considered the incremental effect on human deaths of a pardon? 26,000 doses. I'm sure Nguyen would have been a key instrument in the causation of quite a few deaths, had he not been caught.

I too think that campaigners should not use his picture, in which he looks innocent and harmless, nor feature his sob story to sway people. The issue is whether you think the law should actively take lives (although in doing so you save lives), and not whether the accused's circumstances are heartbreaking.

Zen|th said...

Yep. I agree. If you're against the death sentence, you should stand up for Took as well.

clyde said...

And why do you feel that everyone who campaigns for people like Shamugam or Mguyen should support all victims? People's reasons for detesting the death penalty vary. People like mrdarren actually support the penalty for heinous crimes like murder but simply think it too harsh for drug traffickers.

Perhaps now I will address Mr Wang's original issue. People need to understand that there are two types of people currently campaigning. Those who call for its complete abolishment and those who are simply disgusted that a murderer and a drug trafficker should face the same lethal punishment. An imbalance if you like. You need to know which moral ground they stand on before you go up against them and start accusing them of being hipocritical. Don't assume them for what they're not.

The latter is also likely to generate drug-trafficking related discussions. Why traffickers should face the same lethal punishment as murderers. And to illustrate why this 'equal' law is illogical, I ask why then is alcohol and tabacco/nicotine not illegal? Shouldn't we be executing pub owners and every 7-11 shop owner? Drink driving certainly forms a significant percentage of annual deaths. Alcoholics certainly destroy families. And how many shops peddle cancer sticks to citizens? It's almost laughable that we "advertise" the bad effects of smoking in bold letters and big pictures on cigarette packs the same way schools teach children about recreational drugs and STDs. In fact, anyone who has studied marajuana will know that it is generally not anymore harmful than the aforementioned drugs. So why the double standard? The answer is simply money. One has to question how many digits need to go onto a paycheck for Singapore to sell-out its moral ground. It's the only reason why casinos will be built (gambling addicts destroy families too, no?), tabacco and alcohol will be sold. They are multi-billion dollar industries and somewhere, a group of ministers make a decision as to whether the business proposition is worth it. Money makes the world go round indeed.

Indeed it sounds hipocritical of the government to sell-out themselves on casinos and recreational drugs like alcohol and nicotine while emphasising the seriousness of carrying a drug like marajuana by enforcing the death penalty. People need to consider a measure of danger posed by all recreational drugs and casinos and ask themselves if the law reflects a justified and fair punishment on all of them. After that, ask yourself if alcohol, tobacco and casinos should be banned together with other illicit drugs, OR instead soften punishment on drug-traffickers by at least serving them life sentences, in order to create a more logical justice system.

It is the death penalty supporters that need to consider this; you can't support it for some drugs and then not for others.

anonymous craven said...

3 more points to consider.

First. Life imprisonment in Singapore in reality is hardly ever imprisonment for life. How so? In practice, after 20 years served, the prisoner is evaluated for suitability for release in periodic reviews in periods less than 12 months. In practice, after remissions it the prisoner can be released as early as after 14 years of jail.

14-20 years may be a long time in jail. But it can never be equated in deterrent effect to a death sentence. And there is the distinct risk that the released drug trafficker will return to their former trade.


Second. Society vs. traffickers - I don't think that Mcdarren disputes the fact that the current anti-drug measures are very effective in dealing with the drug menace. He proposes to change the existing equation simply to be more humane to the traffickers.

The issue of drug control has serious repercussions on the Singaporean society. Are we willing to take the risk of worsening the drug situation in Singaporean simply to be more humane to drug traffickers? If more traffickers infiltrate Singapore, and released traffickers return to their trade, how do we answer to their victims?


Third. The Nguyen case has been blown out of proportions by special interest groups and the Australian media. But have those compassionate souls considered other means of helping out?

Have they raised funds to help Nguyen's family since they are supposedly in dire circumstances?

Have they dealt with the criminals that were threatening Nguyen's family?

Have they studied the conditions of the Asian immigrants of Australia and addressed issues of poverty and employment discrimination?

Or are they simply more interested in using Nguyen as an excuse for a pointless exercise of state bashing, name-callings and loud accusations.

Beach-yi said...

In the case of those who argue about worsening of the drug situation in Singapore? Can they, please kindly, list out the facts and statistics on the drug situation now ?

I simply do not understand their assertions. For example, how do you measure effectiveness of deterrancy based on certain sentences? Number of drug addicts fallen?

And to the last craven fella, your straw men arguements are interesting but just detracts from the main topic. The Australian media have not blown this case out of hand, it is simply your perception, unlike Singapore, they have more than one newspaper and what you are readng is simply a subset of the entire Australian media. And your last point is simply speculation that reads like nationalistic jingoism.

singaporean said...

What if I say Buddha tell me it is wrong to take lives, not just of humans, but of animals as well? Are we going to ban meats then?

Everybody has their own god or gods, or the lack thereof, and each has their own unique value system which may not be shared by all.

It is hilarious that mrdarren and beach-yi goes on and on about "Straw Man" argument when they themselves choose to constrain the argument to their own value system instead of addressing the real issue: Is there any proof that the death penalty is an ineffective deterrant?

Personally, the death penalty dont rest terribly well with me either. The picture of Nguyen haunts me too. If anybody can prove to me that the death penalty makes no difference, I will be the first one to stand up and fight the death penalty. But if you cant prove anything, then I say I want Singapore to stay drug free as it is. Sometimes, a wrong fix cannot be easily "unfixed". Just ask Bush about Iraq.

One may argue that many countries with no death penalty has no serious drug problem either. But these countries arent quite in the same geographical locale of Singapore; our proximity to the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent means that there will always be a good amount of heroin moving around the region. Furthermore, the immediate neighbours of Singapore like Thailand and Malaysia all have the death penalty for drug trafficking.

Hong Kong is the nearest administrative region that doesnt have the death penalty. Not so coincidentally, it was at one point the heroin transhipment hub of the world overtaken only recently by Chinese cities like Shanghai.

So to clyde, mrdarren and beach-yi: If you are out to win a debating contest, I let you win. If you are here to change minds about the death penalty, you failed miserably. In fact, the more you guys rant, the more I am convinced the death penalty is the right thing for Singapore. Then again, maybe you guys are closet supporters of the death penalty trying to work on reverse psychology, in which case then, I say, good job!

mugster said...

Bonafide opposers of the death sentence even defend the Unabomber, who caused their family members' deaths. So if you think that the death sentence is suitable for some crimes, then you don't know your case.

The moment you think that the punishment should suit the crime, and death is a suitable punishment for some crimes, then it's not "wrong" to sentence a trafficker to death.

Who's to say which act is worse? For murdering, people do it out of passion, in the heat of the moment, and they sometimes attempt suicide or turn themselves in. Drug traffickers traffickers on the other hand want to make a quick buck, and the effects of their actions harm more than one people. The effects of their actions are far-ranging. And drug traffickers, if not caught, would do it again surely, because it is so lucrative. If the death sentence doesn't exist, then trafficking to earn money would be a rational option for people who don't mind going to jail.

I'm not trying to defend murderers, I'm trying to make you see that drug traffickers are no less murderers than Took.

And I think the deeper problem is why Asian immigrants to Aus have such a crappy standard of living such that they are forced to go to loan sharks. Could Nguyen's brother not have gone to a bank? Was there racism in the sense that other forms of finance was not available to him? These are the real debates in this case, not the issue of whether he is eventually hanged.

If you're religious, say a prayer for him. But also understand that if Singapore relents on its seemingly draconian stand, the direct result is more deaths.

Beach-yi said...

Singaporean:

I don't care much about values systems, they can be very wrong sometimes.

If you bothered to pay attention in statistics class, you would remember that in hypothesing that something have an effect on another thing, statistics tests would never be able to disprove the hypothese. Therefore when people ask about the effectiveness of the mandatory death penalty on preventing drugs usage or drugs related deaths in Singapore, they are simply asking you and all who approve of the punishment to show any signs of effectiveness.

If you can't show any proof, then you are approving based on your judgement, not on any reasoning. That is why, there are posts going on to 50 over comments.

You can say you approve for all you want, but it is never on any sound reasoning nor argument. It is based on judgements. Yeah to you for sticking to your ground, and yeah to you if you had considered properly the anti-death penalty arguements.

It's been a yawn.

clyde said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
clyde said...

"So to clyde, mrdarren and beach-yi: If you are out to win a debating contest, I let you win. If you are here to change minds about the death penalty, you failed miserably. In fact, the more you guys rant, the more I am convinced the death penalty is the right thing for Singapore. Then again, maybe you guys are closet supporters of the death penalty trying to work on reverse psychology, in which case then, I say, good job!"

Oh my apologies to you Singaporean. I was under the impression we were both debating the death penalty. Of course one can win a debate but yet have the other party walk away an unbeliever if he chooses to close his ears and bury his head into the ground. It seems that the issues I and a few others keep mentioning fall on deaf ears. I can't force you to accept these logical deductions that Mrdarren, beach-yi and myself have been carefully presenting to you. Your arguments simply side-step ours and fill with more assertions hungry to support the death penalty. Look:

"If anybody can prove to me that the death penalty makes no difference, I will be the first one to stand up and fight the death penalty. But if you cant prove anything, then I say I want Singapore to stay drug free as it is."

Why don't you prove that it does work? To think that one should die unless proven ineffective is like saying "guilty until proven innocent". Why choose this path? Im guessing you have an inherent sense of paranoia that the "fabric of society" will be ripped and shredded to bits by druglords and needle junkies if it weren't for the death penalty.

Why is it so difficult for people to understand that no matter how logical your your hypothesis or how many, you can NEVER ever beat statistics. And I assert once again that the lack of statistical facts and transparency by the MHA means none of us can prove the the death penalty efficient OR inefficient. Then again, it was not mrdarren, beach-yi and I asserting it wasn't. Rather people such as yourself would more than gladly assume it is. Once again, you have condemned people on death row without 'fair trial' on your own account with the "guilty until proven otherwise" mentality.

And to those who have a similar sentiment to Singaporean, some of you pose completely valid hypotheses. But do us a favour and look up the definition of the word. A hypothesis is only a hypothesis UNTIL proven. Your claims that Singapore is a magnet for drug trade in comparison with Hong Kong can sound as logical as they possibly can. But again, you have chosen to ignore why it is that the death penalty in America (and don't tell me they don't have their fair share of crime compared to SG!) can be proven ineffective. And yes, the AI study DOES actually use real statistics. But it doesn't matter how many countries disprove or prove the death penalty. Why assume an observation in one country should hold true for another? Societies are complex and never alike. Again, you ignored mrdarren's well-thought out factors attributed to low drug availability in Singapore (10:45). And you assume the only factor influencing drug availability in Singapore is, hmm let me guess, the death penalty.

As Beach-yi says, this discussion is just going round and round dejavu style. He is right to call your arguments 'empty'. Arguments made out of assumptions and assertions(that society will collapse to drugs without the penalty) will hold nothing against statistics YOU can't show us. You make the assertion, you provide the proof. Whereas the essence of our arguments make none, except how much straw you're made of.

mrdarren said...

To Singaporean: I'm glad to see you re-joining the discussion. I do apologise for saying that you are either acting stupidly or acting dishonestly regarding some of your opinions. On hindsight, I realise your opinions are honestly held and you are entitled to an opinion. I'm sorry if I have offended you.

mrdarren said...

Dear all,

I have decided to write an opinion essay on the use of capital punishment for drug offences.

This essay will be a work in progress until Dec 05, after the end of my exams. I intend to submit the completed essay to the local media and/or school publications.

I've started by writing on the lack of media attention on this issue. I will re-organize the structure of the essay as times goes by; I just wanted to write about this aspect first because we have not discussed it here.

I warmly welcome Mr Wang's readers to visit my blog where I will update the essay. I will appreciate feedback so that I can fine tune my essay. Please visit "Be Serious, Okay?" at www.tackygeek.blogspot.com

Thank you.

strom said...

"Why is it so difficult for people to understand that no matter how logical your hypothesis or how many, you can NEVER ever beat statistics"

So I'm just wondering: There're so many popular anti-gov't sentiments - by bloggers, critics, commenters alike - in the local blogosphere, so much more than there are pro-gov't; why don't these people just make an effort, round themselves up, and get their opinions reflected in the next GE? Statistics don't lie.

mrdarren- better get that done before the next GE pal. I've bookmarked you.

james tan said...

i agree that there should not be any double standards. if we want to abolish the death penalty, clemency should be sought for Took Leng How.

GhOsT said...

I am against capital punishment.

Took Leng How should not be hanged. He had shown sufficient remorse and had given himself up. If he didnt, I doubt he would be caught to face the hangman.

Just my 2 cents worth...

Anonymous said...

The main argument against capital punishment stems from a fear of killing people.

Thus, cowardice is the basic factor. Upon this basic flaw, those against execution build a huge edifice of self-delusionary justifications to explain way their cowardice and give shining reasons for opposing execution.

if only these cowards would devote just a fraction of the enrgy they waste opposing into helping the victim's families, it might be possible to respect their opposing view. Sadly, these cowards feel more for the murderer that the victim or the victim's families.

I think there is a psychological mechanism that explains this...I guess it just means that these people are mentally a few bricks short.

flosduellatorum