2 Feb 2005

John Howard appeals for life of Australian

PM appeals for life of Australian
By Connie Levett
South-East Asia Correspondent
Singapore
February 2, 2005


Nguyen Tuong Van


Singapore'S Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday offered little hope to Melbourne man Nguyen Tuong Van, on death row for drug trafficking, despite an appeal for clemency from Prime Minister John Howard.

"It is a very serious offence and in Singapore we treat (drug crime) very seriously," Mr Lee said.

Nyugen's final hope lies with Singaporean President S.R. Nathan, who has the power to spare his his life. This would be on the advice of the cabinet, although such appeals have rarely been granted.

"We have a received a petition for clemency from the Governor-General, and we are waiting for a petition from the prisoner himself. He has another month to file," Mr Lee said.

"Singapore has always taken a very firm line as the only way we can maintain Singapore as a drug-free clean society," he said.

Cabinet would consider the individual circumstances of Nguyen's case, Mr Lee said.

Mr Howard said there were compassionate reasons to spare the 24-year-old from the death penalty.

Nguyen was convicted last March of importing 396.2 grams of diamorphine (heroin) into Singapore on December 2002.

He was in transit from Cambodia to Australia and was arrested as he waited to board a Qantas flight to Melbourne.

He told officials at the time that he had smuggled the drugs to help pay off his twin brother's debts.

Mr Howard said Nguyen had co-operated with authorities.

"He was, although engaged in a criminal act, endeavouring to secure financial resources to help a family member and I'll be putting those issues in the hope they will be taken into account by the President of Singapore in the final decision," he said.

When asked if Nyguen's execution would affect bilateral relations, Mr Howard said: "I believe there is a very good case for clemency, but people must understand that the laws of Singapore are well known."

Mr Howard was in Singapore for a day of meetings with the country's three most senior politicians: Prime Minister Lee, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee's father, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding prime minister who now acts as minister mentor to his son.

Mr Howard and Mr Lee also discussed access for Singapore Airlines to lucrative air routes through Australia to the west coast of America.

Discussions are under way in Australia and Mr Howard refused to put a schedule on when the issue would be resolved.

"I think the important thing is what comes out rather than a time imperative on them," Mr Howard said.

Mr Howard also visited the Kranji War cemetery to lay a wreath, saying of all the dramatic events of the Pacific War, "none was more deeply in the Australian psyche than the fall of Singapore".

Previous posts linked to this case are listed below:
Battle to stop a hanging Saturday, July 24, 2004

Singapore defers judgment of Australian drug trafficker Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Mother begs for drug smuggler's lifeThursday, July 29, 2004

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you know what drugs does to peoples' lives?

redrown said...

would you care to elaborate? then perhaps we could weigh the negatives of drug trafficking and abuse and see if the death penalty is a proportionate means of curbing drug trafficking/abuse.

Anonymous said...

No, you're right. It's much more humane to reduce the deterrent for drug peddling, so that more people will resort to smuggling drugs to teens when they need money. Stupid Australian teens who take drugs and later screw up their lives and commit suicide deserve it because they chose to take drugs. Singapore, which clearly states the penalties for heroin smuggling, is a cruel country compared to western states which will give drug peddlers a chance to live, even if it means more people bringing in drugs to stupid teens.

pea said...

every country deals with law, and therefore the penalties, in different ways. what makes you think you can impose your sense of the Ultimate Truth on this system which has undoubtedly flourished for 4 decades, and still going?

what makes you think your sense of justice fits aptly into Singapore's culture, Singapore's people, Singapore's geographic position, Singapore's economy and Singapore's politics?

What are human rights, may I ask you to elaborate? It is apparent that one country/individual's perception of human rights does not fit nicely into another's. so what business is it of yours to conveniently translate your beliefs into the Singaporean context?

quit it alright, do not dedicate your life to such senseless acts; trying to sow discord between fellow Singaporeans or just merely dissuading Australians from taking a liking to us.

whatever your agenda is, it's most likely to backfire in time to come.

soci said...

Pea, ever heard of a species larger than a country, or continent, called 'humanity'? Surely I am allowed to take an interest in my fellow man and woman regardless of nationality. The PAP have signed the United Nations declaration of human rights, and like many other countries have failed to act upon that promise.

pea said...

you're assuming that the UN business is business after all. and you're assuming too that other countries have abided to UN codes faithfully, though that's not a reason why Singapore should follow suit.

in any case humanity isn't as contrived as what you imagined, nor can it be applied so sweepingly to whatever suit your cause.

and what good is a government if it doesn't protect people against people? let us all be reduced to savages then.

redrown said...

You are ignoring the fact that Singapore has committed itself to the human right protocols. In other words, SG has an obligation to observe something which they have made a commitment to. Globally, Sg owes much of it success on external factors such as foreign trade and this is perhaps a motivational factor for them to make such committments - this is to gain acceptance by other nations who similarly adhere to the codes. By doing so, these nations will feel more inclined to trade with Sg rather than countries who have not signed the protocol.

Indeed, when you say that it 'cant be applied so sweepingly to whatever suits your cause', the SG government can't just apply whatever 'suits their cause'. What they are doing is reaping the benefits of the protocol without care to observe their obligations to the protocol which as you say may have serious social costs in Singapore.

I am not saying the government should not protect people. Neither do I claim that drug trafficking is not a bane to our society. What I am questioning is if the death penalty is the appropriate penalty? What about a lengthy jail sentence? That would serve as a deterrent as well.

You may be tempted to argue that a jail sentence or fine will not be sufficient to prevent people from trafficking. However, in maintaining law, adherence to proportionality is essential. Cutting off the arms of burglary and pickpocketing offenders will certainly deter people from doing so, but should the government therefore impose such laws rather than a jail term? I think not.

Irony is that you choose the word 'savage' in describing a perceived lack of lawlessness. Is it not 'savage' to take a person's life in cold blood?

True Flight said...

I forget the technical word for it - is it "reservation", "qualification"? Something like that. It applies to Singapore's entry into international human rights treaties.

If you do your research carefully, you'll see that Singapore's position on capital punishment is not inconsistent with the position it takes in these international human rights treaties. Singapore always makes it clear, when it enters into these treaties, that it is going to continue with its capital punishment.

If you know our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you know that this is their modus operandi for all international treaties. Singapore's MFA takes its treaties very seriously, more so than most other countries.

Before it accedes to a treaty, Singapore's MFA studies the implications inside out. If it has reservations, qualifications, conditions, Singapore always clearly articulates these before it accedes to the treaty. Either that, or it simply chooses not to accede.

Of course, all this is beside the point of whether we should or should not have capital punishment in Sinhgapore. I merely wish to point out here that there is no inconsistency in Singapore's position, in its international treaties and in its actual administration of capital punishment.

redrown said...

Thanks for your enlightening discourse on this matter and clarification on some of the issues I raised, inadequately, as it may be. No doubt to your credible sources.

Even if Sg does indeed comply with all its global obligations, Singapore cannot just base its qualifications on capital punishment without giving regard to shift in mindsets of countries with affilations with Singapore (such as US and Australia) with regard to capital punishment. Perhaps a 'mind your own business, don't tell us how to govern our nation' attitude is inappropriate, since it is noteworthy that these countries usually raise issues when their citizens are caught within the jurisdiction of singapore, not when sg deals with their own citizens. Therefore, is it not that their own governments are trying to protect their own citizens (foolish as they may be, given the world renowned fact of Sg's stringent laws on drug trafficking) as well?

(Also ancillary to the point on whether we should have capital punishment in singapore.)

Anonymous said...

I think we should look at the substance rather than the form of things.

When a drug peddler pushes drugs to a person, or when a person takes drugs, in many cases he's sentencing himself to death. Or perhaps a fate worse than death.

Just by making it known that S'pore has the death penalty, we have perhaps reduced the number of deaths from drugs. On the other hand, had we not had such a penalty, perhaps more people's lives would be ruined because of drugs. So what's real kindness? Conforming to the western concept of human rights (which is to ban capital punishment but pump billions into killing iraqis) or stating clearly from the onset that trafficking is punishable by death?

It's sad when S'pore actually has to enforce it because someone chose to take a gamble. But the mere existence of this rule has saved a lot of people from themselves, so on the balance I think the west is not necessarily more kind, in that sense. More often than not westerners pay attention to how it looks on the surface rather than delve deeply into what it really means to be moral, and what it means to respect human rights.

Anonymous said...

And for the record, no country will do business with you if it didn't benefit their bottom line. They won't even do business in their own country if it doesn't benefit their bottom line! So do not assume foreign companies are here as a favor to us. If we didn't have the infrastructure, the skilled workforce and the political stability, they wouldn't be here.

Anonymous said...

Them's are the laws in Singapore as regards drugs. The vietnamese guy knew the possible consequences of getting caught trafficking. He went ahead anyway. No one held a gun to his head. I have debts too, but no amount of debt would cause me to attempt anything of that nature within 100 miles of Singapore. He's stupid, he'll just have to face the consequences. So it goes!

pea said...

EXACTLY. We didn't push him to peddle drugs here.

I think the purpose of law is to deter, not so much as to punish. But since our law did not manage to deter him, his punishment awaits. And if we do not hold onto our law by allowing pleas to sway us, what good is a law?

True Flight said...

I'll share a little bit more of info then, but leave you to draw your own conclusions.

The numbers, if you have access to them, will tell you that the level of drug consumption in Singapore is not inversely proportional to the number of drug traffickers we hang.

At any one time, the number of convicts in Singapore's drug rehabilitation centres (DRCs - effectively, they are just prisons for convicted consumers of illegal drugs) is approximately equal to the nation's entire prison population for all other crimes.

In other words, hanging drug traffickers hasn't had any noticeable effect on reducing the number of people in Singapore who consume illegal drugs.

Surprised?

But perhaps I have narrowed the issues a bit too much. The wider issue is whether Singapore should have capital punishment at all-

whereas sometimes we get a little distracted, and talk too much instead about whether Singapore should have capital punishment for drug traffickers.

Broadly, the international trend is very clear - around the world, the death penalty is steadily dying out. Singapore's approach, whether you like it or not, will clearly turn out to be an anachronism on the international scene (more or less like caning).

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but the less drugs there are in Singapore, the better right? And if people are deterred by the law, supply is less, so it should be better for stupid teens who want to take drugs?

We can't reduce the amount of drugs in Singapore by hanging the people who bring it in per se. We reduce this number by making the law known, and enforcing it when some unfortunate soul gets caught. This way at least rational people are able to weight the costs and benefits of doing so, and a number will be deterred. The Law purely works because it's a deterrent, and loses its effectiveness if clemency is given.

I am truly sorry for the young man, but I think his "special circumstances" are irrelevant. Everyone has reasons for doing things. There are millions of people in debt and it would be terrible if all of them justified their smuggling death capsules to other people just because they need money.

And America kills its prisoners too. (Timothy Mcveigh)

Plus, if one of your kind bombs them, your entire country gets flattened. (Iraq)

soci said...

Are drugs really that bad? Yes people die. Yes families are destroyed. Now I am just going to throw this out there and see what happens.

If all drugs were legalised and available through controlled, legal, validated means, tested and standardised, with 'officers' working to ensure knowledge of the use and dangers of their use, would the situation be better than today? What signals would this send to the population of Singapore?

For me speaking personally, the problem wider society has with drugs is not that they kill people, many things kill people, but is the social rejection of 'drugs' something to do with a fear that people are trying to escape society. A society that 'we' built and 'they' reject?

A kind of Durkheimian question!

Anonymous said...

So your solution is to allow Mankind to escape his problems not by facing them, but by allowing them to pop a pill when they feel the weight of the world is too much for them.

Hey you know what? Maybe that's why the British insisted sold opium to China last time, creating a nation of addicts ( Hence the term "Sick Man of the East") although Britain thoughtfully banned the use of opium as a non-medicinal drug in its own country.

Why don't you get the rest of the world to legalise drugs (Including ice and what have you not), then we'll see if it works?


You haven't addressed the point abt the young man smuggling a huge amount of drugs. Was it entirely to pay off his bro's debts or did he want to make a pile from it as well?

From my limited knowledge of sociology, 2 of the models to explain Man's behaviour are the REMM theory and the Social Victim model. You're using the social victim model which pictures nguyen as a victim because he didn't really want to, circumstances forceed him. The REMM model postulates that individuals make cost-benefit decisions and choose the choice that they get the most utility out of. I'm afraid Nguyen chose money over life, Steve.

When you get students who don't study and you have to fail them, do you blame yourself for giving them a low grade or tell them to study harder next time?

True Flight said...

Steve has raised an interesting point, but in Singapore it is an idea before its time.

Steve has raised the possibility of legalising drugs. It would be an idea utterly shocking to Singaporeans.

However, of course Singaporeans would equally be shocked to know that certain illegal drugs, marijuana being the prime example, are actually not harmful.

[I hear your violent protests already. Unfortunately this is a scientific fact - go do your research and educate yourself].

In fact, it's quite evident that legal drugs such as alcohol [I hear your violent protests again - go educate yourself. Alcohol IS regarded as a drug] are significantly more dangerous than cannabis / marijuana.

But Steve, as I said, the idea you raise is before its time, in Singapore. It is a bit like Copernicus being burned at the stake for suggesting that it is the earth that revolves around the sun, not the other way around.

There is a evolutionary process that every society must go through, mistakes that every society must make, before they find a more enlightened, developed approach.

Meanwhile, Singaporeans convicted of marijuana abuse will have their future in Singapore ruined by that conviction, for years and years. Long after the effects of the marjiuana consumptiom wore off - ie within one hour.

True Flight said...

For those Singaporeans who actually dare to have an open mind, this study by the World Health Organisation may prove interesting reading::

http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/general/who-comparison.htm

To summarise, it is much more dangerous for Cold Storage & NTUC Fairprice to sell Marlboro, whiskey and rum, than to sell marijuana.

pea said...

Singapore lagging behind in social evolution because we do not legalize drugs... maybe. Correct me if I'm wrong but drugs progressed from the legal status to the illegal, and now you guys want it to be legal again?

Singapore having to deal with public opinion? Absolutely. Let's say the Govt is all for legalizing drugs now and we go to the votes. My guess is only you guys, the druggies and taxi drivers will say "yes" to drugs.

Aye but of course, we can easily dismiss it as social conditioning. We were told what to think and hence think what we were told.

Propaganda is a very useful word in this blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but steve isn't like copernicus or poor galileo who got persecuted for views which actually benefit mankind but go against the ruling body.

Even if marijuana is somehow good for us, the thing with drug smuggling is that you can't say "smuggle in marijuana, don't smuggle in the more exciting and harmful drugs". People develop a dependence on the drugs:it's necessary to increase the dosage to get bigger kicks.

There must be a reason why even marijuana is taboo in US (though kids do us it), the most liberal of places. Why are people like Robert Downey Junior and Matthew Perry bothering to quit when drugs is okay?

There's a diffence between unconventional and plain ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

And I do agree that cigarettes and alcohol (and coffee, while you're at it) are harmful, but surely you're not suggesting Singapore becomes the world's first country to ban these? The difference lies in the matter of degree. Otherwise instead of having a cuppa in the morning you might as well blaze up a dooby,

True Flight said...

Well, the ignorance that's getting exhibited is so ... Singaporean, but what can I say, it's hardly surprising.

At this point in time, let's just say that:

1. There are some interesting moral parallels to be drawn between marijuana and casinos; and

2. Singapore DOES legalise dangerous drugs. Alcohol is quite easily available here.

True Flight said...

Since I'm bored, let's just think of possible reasons why we might say that marijuana should be decriminalised in Singapore.

1. Medically, it is not harmful. Cigarettes and alcohol are more dangerous.

2. By decriminalising it, it will be more easily regulated - this approach is similar to the way the Singapore government deals with prostitution.

3. Once the industry is regulated, the Singapore government can make money out of it by imposing license fees, taxes etc, the same way it would make money out of casinos and alcohol sellers.

4. The lives of large numbers of Singaporeans have been ruined by a criminal conviction for consuming marijuana, which has none of the adverse health effects associated with other types of drugs such as, say, heroin or cocaine. By decriminalising marijuana, we cease to ruin people's lives.

5. We reduce the overcrowding problem in our drug rehab centres. Marijuana is not addictive, hence its users don't need rehabilitation anyway. We should save the space for those who really need it.

There we go. :)

By the way, I have no personal interest in these matters. I raise these points merely to stimulate some thinking. Many Singaporeans need that.

True Flight said...

Anonymous said:

"And I do agree that cigarettes and alcohol (and coffee, while you're at it) are harmful, but surely you're not suggesting Singapore becomes the world's first country to ban these?"

Well, now I launch into trivia:

1. Actually the United States had banned alcohol previously. Check out the history of the Prohibition.

2. The import / commercial sale of alcohol IS indeed banned in many Muslim countries (eg Kuwait).

3. Current mainstream scientific consensus is that coffee is not harmful. If you visit my blog (Journey 2005), you'll find a link to that information. Historically though there WAS a time when coffee was banned (google "coffee" and "ottoman empire" and "murat IV") - in fact, drinking coffee was a capital offence.

4. The argument for legalising marijuana would be that it would become feasible to regulate and control its use. Cf alcohol in Singapore - there are controls such as minors not being allowed to drink; a license being required to sell alcohol; laws against drink driving etc.

Anonymous said...

GK, thanks for labelling me ignorant. But I'm not a lawyer by training, but an accountant. Theoretically legalising coffee and marijuana is the same, but is it really? I can only base my arguments on common sense rather than high level philosophical arguments lawyers seem to be fond of. And I am a cofee lover, but I am very aware of its effects as felt by me, not based on info put out by goodness knows who. If marijuana is the same as coffee, would u jump if u learnt ur kid is smoking pot? Apart from the actual effects of it, there are social connotations related to it. Even in US it is taboo, though it is legal. Yes, I learnt about Prohibition, so even US went through some periods of testing. Should we ban alcohol? Well, theoretically we should ban those who have a tendency to abuse substances, but how do we practically implement that? It's all about cost and benefit. What are the benefits of legalising drugs?

And drugs like opium were legalised when the British ruled Singapore, but if u read up on history, the Chinese got ruined by it. That's how the term Dong ya bing fu came about. Even earlier, the British sold opium to China, and this resulted in the Opium war. That's how the British got hold of HongKong.

There's more than a social stigma when one gets addicted to drugs. I may be addicted to coffee, but I can take it once every 2/3 days, and I'm not going to rob or kill for a dose of coffee. Can the same be said for drug addicts?

And if a person were to start telling your loved ones why taking coffee is no different than smoking pot, what would your first reaction be? To agree that there's theoretically no difference, or to tell this person to buzz off?

My reasoning may not be as high level as yours, but I believe these are pertinent questions.

Anonymous said...

And I urge Steve to read up on what the British are capable of doing in the name of following rules made by their own kind. The Opium war is a perfect example of how westerners insist that their concept of human rights is The concept, while ignoring basic human decency.

http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/CHING/OPIUM.HTM

Thanks for your links, here's one of my own. Steve isn't ahead of his own time. The British, being civilised and all, had sold drugs legitimately to China in the 1800s, (of course banning it in their own country).

" The Opium War, also called the Anglo-Chinese War, was the most humiliating defeat China ever suffered. In European history, it is perhaps the most sordid, base, and vicious event in European history, possibly, just possibly, overshadowed by the excesses of the Third Reich in the twentieth century.

By the 1830's, the English had become the major drug-trafficking criminal organization in the world; very few drug cartels of the twentieth century can even touch the England of the early nineteenth century in sheer size of criminality. Growing opium in India, the East India Company shipped tons of opium into Canton which it traded for Chinese manufactured goods and for tea. This trade had produced, quite literally, a country filled with drug addicts, as opium parlors proliferated all throughout China in the early part of the nineteenth century. This trafficing, it should be stressed, was a criminal activity after 1836, but the British traders generously bribed Canton officials in order to keep the opium traffic flowing. The effects on Chinese society were devestating. In fact, there are few periods in Chinese history that approach the early nineteenth century in terms of pure human misery and tragedy. In an effort to stem the tragedy, the imperial government made opium illegal in 1836 and began to aggressively close down the opium dens. "



Drugs were first legalised, then made illegal after people experienced the effects of drugs.

Unless you want to be dependent on drug producing countries for trade, no one should be advocating encouraging addiction. I'm guessing the prices would rise anyway, because everyone would really need the drugs and the usual laws of supply and demand hold. And when the world is dependent on drugs to function, the Bermuda triangle countries will move from third world to first, and they will have enlightened people like yourself to thank.

Anonymous said...

Just to refute your statement that marijuana is not that harmful:

http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofax/marijuana.html

http://www.well.com/user/woa/fspot.htm

I find your assumptions that people can regulate their use of drugs faulty. The problem with drugs is that people become addicted, lose control (to varying extents), and go on to more addictive and extreme form of drugs.

True Flight said...

Firstly, your entire section on opium is quite irrelevant because I have never talked about legalising opium. I have been talking about marijuana.

Secondly, I did not mean to say that Steven has produced an idea before its time, when he suggested the possibility of decriminalising drugs. I meant that the idea of decriminalising drugs is before its time, in Singapore.

The idea, of course, is not before its time in many other countries -

in some, marijuana consumption is not illegal; in others, marijuana possession for personal consumption is not illegal (similar to the chewing gum situation in Singapore);

in other countries, anti-marijuana laws ostensibly remain on the law books, but are hardly enforced in practice;

in other countries, consumption of marijuana is a rather minor offence (you get a warning from the police, or perhaps a small fine);

and in some countries, you'll find grandmothers cultivating the cannabis plant in their little backyard.

But as I said, the idea is before its time in Singapore.

Thirdly, you must scrutinise your data more carefully when you read about the effects of marijuana.

Many things can be bad for your health - char kway teow; cigarettes; addiction to Internet surfing; overeating; the refusal to exercise regularly, casino gambling, for example.

The point to bear in mind is whether the activity or substance is so harmful that we should criminalise it. If you are more aware of the devastation that a criminal conviction causes to a person's life, then you would grasp the point more easily. You would hope that the devastation was caused for a genuinely good reason.

Your study cites, for example, that marijuana users are more likely to miss school than non-marijuana users. Quite easily I could point out to you that students who like soccer are also more likely to miss school than non-marijuana users, especially in World Cup years. Your study cites that the risk of a heart attack increases in the first hour of marijuana consumption. Quite easily, I could point out that your risk of a heart attack also increases if you eat char kway teow, and the risk lasts much longer than the first hour after consumption. As a matter of fact, if you go jogging or do some form of vigorous exercise, your risk of a heart attack probably increases in the first hour as well.

And the simple truth is that long-term regular consumption of char kway teow places you at a far higher risk of getting a heart attack than long-term regular consumption of marijuana.

None of these conclusions, however, lead automatically to the conclusion that broadcasts of the World Cup should be banned, nor that the sale of char kway teow should be prohibited.

I am not being facetious here. On a broader philosophical note, one of the major concerns of the criminal law has always been how far you want to regulate and control people's behaviour.

Thus I feel that the more relevant comparisons to draw, when we consider whether marijuana should be decriminalised or not, would be between:

1. (a) marijuana and (b) substances which no one thinks should be legalised (eg heroin); and

2. (a) marijuana and (b) substances which society generally considers acceptable (for example, alcohol and nicotine).

On a purely medical basis, you would see that it is impossible to justify allowing alcohol while permitting marijuana. It is obvious that alcohol is the much more lethal substance - even the "high" comes quicker.

Of course, there is the social stigma factor which you have raised. Ex-US President Bill Clinton suffered from this stigma and a mini political crisis, when he admitted that he had smoked pot (marijuana) as a university student. Possibly he missed some days of school, if you are right, but it didn't seem to stop him from successfully graduating from Yale Law School and becoming the President of the United States.

However, I have two points to respond to your social stigma factor. Firstly, it seems wrong to criminalise something solely because there is a social stigma attached to it. (Should we criminalise leprosy? Bankrupts? Men with long hair? Single mothers?). Secondly, the effect is circular. If you criminalise something, then quite naturally, a stigma attaches to it. If you decriminalise it, well then what do you think happens to the stigma .......? :)

To end on a lighter note, I turn to your point about how you feel when you drink coffee. Of course, you know how you feel - you don't need scientific literature to tell you that. What you may not know is whether coffee is bad for your health.

You were under the impression that coffee is bad for health (in an earlier post, you lumped it together with nicotine & alcohol). I was under a similar impression and if you had visited my personal blog, you would have seen that one of my goals for 2005 was to quit coffee.

Happily, since then, I have examined the literature. Extensive studies have been done for long periods of time on coffee consumption. The current scientific consensus is that coffee does not have any adverse health effects which should warrant coffee lovers such as you and I quitting the habit. Like marijuana and New Age music, coffee is quite a safe mind-altering substance.

True Flight said...

There is an error in my post above. I said:

"On a purely medical basis, you would see that it is impossible to justify allowing alcohol while permitting marijuana."

Of course, what I meant was:

"On a purely medical basis, you would see that it is impossible to justify allowing alcohol while BANNING marijuana."

Anonymous said...

Hi GK,

My aim of bringing in the opium war: "The Opium war is a perfect example of how westerners insist that their concept of human rights is The concept, while ignoring basic human decency."

There are several elements to the debate about legalisin drugs. One aspect, which Steve is using to boost his argument supporting its legalisation is that if social stigma caused by making it illegal is harmful, thus we should abolish it. He doesn't look at elements like the state's right to protect and the actual harm health does to one's body. And the fact that drug addicts are not in control. Controlled drug abuse is an oxymoron, isn't it? The thing about drugs is that events spiral out of control. How many drug abusers could have predicted that they would end up shooting themselves, ended up using more exciting forms of drugs, and ended up totally dependent on drugs? Here's a nasty side effect of drugs:

Needle Fixation: A person with a needle fixation enjoys and often craves the act of injecting a drug, as much as the drug itself - often the two pleasures go hand in hand. Such a user will divide the 'fix' into as many shots as possible, craving the actual injection and associated 'rush' into the veins. The user may also resort to other substances just to satisfy this urge, quite often collapsing veins in the process.

In the first place, marijuana was brought up as an example of how even the Americans don't tolerate it. Here Steve is saying that Singapore is archaic for disallowing drugs, when it is taboo even in the US to take drugs.

I believe opium is an important instance of how the entire Chinese fighting force was rendered useless by voluntary usage of a legal drug (in China but not in Britain)The side effects of opium are much less harmful than marijuana, or the very first drug discussed, heroin. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. That is what it did to the Chinese.

Thus I am urging Steve to push for his radical law to be passed in his country before expecting Singaporeans to champion for it. (And saying that those of us fuddy-duddies who oppose it are like people persecuting great scientists) If you really believe that legalising drugs is the answer to mankind's drug related problems, then you MUST push for what you believe in.

Anonymous said...

GK: I do read your blog, and I enjoy reading it.

It's just that when people start discussing how theoretically, legalising (and thus sanctioning) drug taking is a good thing, I'm going to please ask you to set an example in your own country before you expect us to do this. Nevermind that you are asking me to disregard my views based on what I actually know, and based on common sense.

I think purely theoretical debate doesn't make much sense. So, if you disallow your child to take pot, you should also disallow your child to drink socially? Or to take a jog? Or (Since your stand is to legalise marijuana) You wouldn't discourage your child from taking marijuana if you wouldn't discourage him from jogging?

And as for coffee, whether you experience side effects depends on your constitution. Caffeine causes sleeplessness in some, and many people can't function without their first cuppa. Coffee also zaps nutrients from your body. As teeth are porous, coffee makes teeth more yellow. It is possible that you experienced none of these side effects, in which case there would be no
reason to quit it. But why did you want to quit it, if you hadn't experienced any side effects?

True Flight said...

I need to go for reunion dinner shortly, so for now I'll just make one point -

it is wrong to say that opium is much less dangerous than marijuana!

Opium is dangerous. It belongs to the same family (the opiate family) as heroin - they come from the same plant (the poppy).

Opium is addictive, marijuana is not.

So folks out there, stay away from opium!!!

Anonymous said...

Well done Mr G.! I think that some S'poreans need to think outside the square... and possibly travel outside it as well before placing judgements on other countries and their citizens. Experience life in a country where the government does not treat you like a toy soldier, a country where you have freedom and signing up for the army to be under government control for as long as possible isn't one of the most secure and well paid jobs available to its citizens. This is really sad, because Singapore is said to be such a stable country, yet the most influential and successful business people in the country are expats.

I am surprised by the reaction of some people in regards to this case. Is making a mistake really worth life?

One of the things I noticed while in Singapore is that religion plays a very important role to it's society. For such a religious country, I ponder at the thought of it being so easy to take away the life of a fellow human being, when it is religious figures whom gave up their lives so we could all be here.

On the point of knowing better and that the whole world should know of the harsh laws in Singapore... Ask half of the world where Singapore is? this is hard enough without questioning them on the laws of another country. The only time I was aware of the drug laws was when I read it on my entry pass which was handed out on the plane just before arrival in Singapore, I would think this would already be the point of no return.

Could you tell me the Australian laws for drug consumption and trafficking without researching?

I know when I have children I would rather them get high, be experimental and then get on with life instead of realising at 34 that they haven't really lived life by working 15hour shifts in a $3000per month job and end up committing suicide... because that's what is on the rise in Singapore and needs to be addressed by the government more urgently than experimenting with drugs. Make citizens happy and support government bodies, not just fear them!

Anonymous said...

i do NOT agree with your idea of "singabloodypore" you have No right to insult a country like that
i come from your so-called impression of "singabloodypore" and i am proud to be from there. do not get the wrong idea, i am not being bias, but one thing is certain: you are. nguyen was trying to save his brother, yes i agree, that was a good thing. but taking up drug trafficking to raise the money! thats going too far. people buy the drugs in singapore. then what happens? they get poisoned. and not just one of them. a whole lot gets poisoned. it affects their familys when they get hooked on it. at least 6 lives ruined for his brothers life. i think that is too far. say what you like, i dun care, but i am telling you, if i could report this blog, i would