Yet again the Singaporean government slanders the good name of its people in the eyes of the world. My sympathy lies with the mother, family and friends of Nguyen Tuong Van. How long can the Singapore government swim against the tide of revulsion?
I have been covering this story for over one year now. Other executions have happened since then. The execution of Shanmugam Murugesu has been one of the very few cases to cause so much as a ripple in the Singaporean media. A campaign was started by a group of Singaporeans and like minded groups to appeal for clemency but to no avail.
The only hope that this situation might turn out differently is if the full weight of the Australian government and media can be brought to bear on the plight of Nguyen Tuong Van. Let the Singaporean government know that it can not treat human beings in such a revolting and inhumane manner, regardless of their nationality or crime.
The Singaporean government should be made to realise that these executions are a stain on their international reputation. One that can not be ignored.
Fri Oct 21, 2005 9:58 AM BST
CANBERRA (Reuters) - An Australian man convicted of drugs charges in Singapore has lost his final appeal for clemency and will be executed, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Friday.
Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, was sentenced to death in March 2004 after being convicted for smuggling almost 400 grams (0.9 lb) of heroin from Vietnam. He was arrested at Singapore's Changi Airport in December 2002, where he was in transit for Australia.
Downer, Prime Minister John Howard and Governor-General Michael Jeffery had all pleaded for clemency for Nguyen, who will become the first Australian to be executed for drugs charges in Southeast Asia since 1993.
"We are very sad that this has happened. We have done our best, we have done everything we can to save his life," Downer told reporters in Adelaide. "The execution is expected to be carried out fairly quickly, which is the custom in Singapore."
Australia is a staunch opponent of the death penalty but Singapore, known for its tough stand against crime, mandates the death penalty for murder and drug trafficking.
Nguyen's Melbourne-based lawyer Lex Lasry said the Singapore decision was devastating for Nguyen, his family and "anyone who values humane treatment of their fellow human beings".
"Death by hanging is hideous. Further, it is grossly out of proportion to the crime committed," he said in a statement, adding that Nguyen had admitted his guilt and cooperated with authorities.
"We call on the Singapore government to reverse this decision. We make this call in the name of fairness and justice."
But Downer said there was little more Australia could do.
"This was a decision made by the Singapore Cabinet and the President, consistent with the laws and constitution of Singapore," Downer said.
Two other Australians, Mai Cong Thanh, 46, and Nguyen Van Chinh, 45, remain on death row in Vietnam after being convicted for drug smuggling.
In 1986, Malaysia executed Australian drug smugglers Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers by hanging in a high-profile case that sparked a major diplomatic row after then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke described the death sentence as "barbaric".
The last Australian to be executed in Southeast Asia was Michael McAuliffe, who went to the gallows in Malaysia in 1993 for drug trafficking.
Mother Begs for Smugglers Life
Singapore Defers Judgement of Australian Drug Trafficker
Battle to Stop a Hanging
Revulsion Over Death Penalty Growing
Amnesty, Australia Asks Singapore
The Case Against The Death Penalty
An Australian faces Singapore's gallows
highest number of per capita executions in the world
Remember Nguyen Tuong Van?