Today the Straits Times has an article about a capital case. This case has nothing to do with Singapore, but that in itself is advantageous in helping Singaporeans understand the issue more clearly. We get none of the distractions of the "them-vs-us" mentality which unfortunately confused both Singaporeans and Australians in the recent Nguyen Tuong Van matter.
One of Mr Wang's essential points in the capital punishment debate is the need for a principled stand. If one opposes capital punishment on the basis of the sanctity of human life, then one opposes capital punishment all the way. You cannot pick and choose between those whom you think deserve death, and those whom you think do not.
Our present case concerns a British tourist, Katherine Horton, who was raped and murdered by Thai fishermen on the popular island resort of Koh Samui. The crime was brutal:
Ms Horton, a Reading University student, was brutally attacked while vacationing in Thailand.... and the evidence was clear-cut:
She was speaking to her mother Elizabeth in Wales on her cellphone when she was set upon by the two men.
The attackers had earlier been drinking and watching a pornographic film on a fishing boat moored offshore. They then swam ashore, came across Ms Horton, hit her with a beach umbrella, raped her and threw her into the sea.
Her body was found floating in the sea the next day.The murder led to an uproar in the British media and outrage
Judge Chamnong Sutchaimai said the forensic evidence could not be disputed and the brutality of the crime committed by them had shocked society.Notwithstanding this, Katherine Horton's mother has taken a principled stand. And so does the British government.
'The court has ruled them guilty of all the crimes they were charged with and imposes the maximum penalty,' he told the packed courtroom.
The victim's mother had earlier said she would prefer the two spend the rest of their lives in prison.They think that the death penalty is wrong in principle. And therefore they oppose it. It does not matter that the victim was her daughter; it does not matter that the victim was a British citizen; it does not matter that her death was caused in a most brutal fashion by two evil foreigners in a foreign land. Those two evil foreigners are human beings too, therefore they should not be executed. This is what Mr Wang means by a principled stand.
Britain's Foreign Office thanked the Thai authorities for finding the two fishermen who raped and murdered Ms Horton.
It too insisted that it opposed the death sentence.
Alas, it seems that it is Thailand which has gone astray:
The murder led to ..... outrage among locals in Koh Samui who were appalled by the incident and worried it would hurt the island's booming tourism industry.This is so wrong, so wrong, so wrong. Firstly, Mr Wang believes that you should not kill people. Secondly, Mr Wang believes that you should not kill people for the sake of tourism.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, concerned about a drop in the tourism dollar, last week called for the death penalty.
tourist attraction in some other country."