Whineeey had no answer. But Mr Wang does have a further insight to offer on this matter. Here it is - the severity of the potential punishment matters less than the likelihood of being caught.Actually I think life imprisonment is as strong or even stronger a deterrent than the death sentence. For all practical purposes, if a person cannot be deterred by the idea of being locked up for the rest of his life, I don't think he would be deterred by the idea of being hanged either.
It is like a devil-and-the-deep-blue-sea situation. Both are qualitatively very different, but both are also very extreme.
It is like telling a person "If you commit this crime, I will dig out both your eyes";
or proposing an alternative:
"If you commit this crime, I will cut off your testicles."
Both are qualitatively quite different - they lead to quite different consequences - but if one does not deter a particular person, the other is also unlikely to deter.
By the way, Whineeey, assuming you are male and have been convicted of the relevant crime, which form of punishment would you prefer?
To elaborate, assume that a drug trafficker knows very well that Singapore has the death penalty (or for that matter, life imprisonment) for drug traffickers. He believes however that he has a 90% chance of successfully passing through Customs without getting caught. The potential for the death penalty (or life imprisonment) would not deter him if he is prepared to bet on his 90% chance.
Assume conversely that Singapore has much more lenient laws on drug trafficking (eg a maximum of 10 years in jail). However, also assume that the authorities are much more vigilant at the immigration checkpoints. Thus the drug trafficker believes that there is a 90% chance of being caught at Customs.
Mr Wang is very certain that in the 2nd scenario, many more drug traffickers would be deterred than in the 1st scenario, from attempting to pass through the immigration checkpoints with their illegal merchandise.
Thus one wonders why the Singapore government doesn't simply step up measures at the immigration checkpoints. For example, train 100 new sniffer dogs and plant them all over Changi Airport. Surely this would be (a) very useful in catching traffickers who still dare to come, (b) very effective in deterring traffickers from planning to come, (c) very useful in reducing the future risks of damaging foreign relations with another nation over the death penalty, and (d) coincidentally useful in thwarting the terrorist threat.
Rover will do just fine.
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