12 Nov 2005

No one should dictate Singapore's laws: forum letter to ST

This is a forum letter to the ST, in response to the "Laws shouldn't be too far off global standards" letter.

I CANNOT help but strongly disagree with all the points brought up in the letter, 'Laws shouldn't be too far off global standards' (ST, Nov 3).

What the writer and the United Nations official who criticised Singapore for its tough drug laws fail to understand is that the situation in no two countries is the same and it is thus ludicrous to require all countries to comply with 'international standards'.

Every government must take the steps most appropriate to address the different security needs of their country.

Singapore is a country with a small land mass and high population density, and it takes little to imagine the havoc that would be wreaked on our society if drugs like heroin were to be smuggled into and sold widely in Singapore.

Such a possibility calls for tough measures to prevent drugs from ever becoming a social menace, like it has in other developed countries.

Furthermore, if the drug trade is so lucrative that even the death sentence cannot deter smugglers, as the writer seems to assert, then what purpose would a mere 15 years' imprisonment serve, other than to give the offender another opportunity to pick up where he left off once he is released?

Singapore is a developed country in its own right and the Government is given the responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of every citizen as far as it possibly can.

No other entity holds any right to dictate what the laws of our country should be. To this end, I applaud the Government for daring to take the necessary steps in performing its duty and protecting our homeland, and risk the derision of both those who would call our laws 'barbaric' or 'authoritarian', and inter- national observers who have no understanding of the internal situation in Singapore.

Tim Mou Hui

No one should dictate Singapore's laws - Nov 12, 2005

I disagree very much this letter, for it is a repetition of what the government has been saying for the past 40 years: Singapore is a small country, we do whatever we can to safeguard security.

For one, the author is presuming that every government knows what is best for its country, cares about human rights, and has formulated the best plan possible to accodomate security and freedom. This is not the case in Singapore. Also, if no external forces should be allowed to critique how a country is run, presuming that "gahmen knows best", are we to condone the oppressive regime in North Korea?

No one IS "dictating" Singapore laws, except the government. They are not given the power to do so. One can only stand back and give constructive criticism, and let it fall on deaf ears. So what is he complaining about?

International observers? What about the number of opposition party members who are decidedly Singaporean, but say the same about Singapore laws as the foreigners have?

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Beach-yi said...

Well, I guess people tend to forget that there can be such a thing as fair comments.

Relativism is a easy thing to hide behind the justification of actions and flawed reasoning. And before you know it, the whole Asian and Western (non)debate will come tumbling out again.

Think Singaporean said...

What a patriot!

It was reported that "Singapore Government Investment Corporation's 1990s investment in the Myanmar Fund, controlled by Lo Hsing Han, one of Burma's most notorious drug lords, through his Asia World Company......the then prime minister ADMITTED..." What if this huge investment of $137,000 billions was utilised to manufacture a huge mountain of drugs? For sure, Tim Mou Hui could also "...imagine the havoc that would be wreaked on our society if drugs like heroin were to be smuggled into and sold widely in Singapore." For all you know, it could be.......

It would then appears as an irony "...to call for tough measures to prevent drugs from ever becoming a social menace, like it has in other developed countries." So, if based on morality and righteousness, what rights are we talking about in this instance to dictate when we're not at all practising what we preach!!

Of course, we do appreciate very much in other areas that the garmen had done for the country but the law could be more flexible. As what Mr Subhas, the lawyer for Took, said "You are supposed to have experienced and wised judges, so why don't you trust them with the discretion?"

Just as, it was reported in the weekend TODAY DD 12 Nov 05, "During his detention, Gerard (JI member) cooperated in investigations. He also responded positively to rehabilitation incl. religious counselling," said the ministry. So, "Gerard was released on .....it was assessed that he no longer posed a significant security threat to Sg..."

In my opinion, drugs could not be more harmful than terrorist attacks. If the ministry could claimed that "rehabilitation incl. religious counselling" could help one to turn over a new leaf, why not for drug traffickers? Why then impose a death penalty to these convicts. What justice is this?

Think Singaporean said...

Also why not for other criminals, such as murders?

Yoyo said...

Excerpt of a posting made by Robert Ho on soc.culture.singapore

11. Has Singapore the right to do anything it likes
within its borders? Has your neighbour the right to
beat his wife as long as it is inside his house?
Again, this calls for philosophical arguments, not law
or international law or conventions, even UN
conventions. Generally, Philosophy is closer to
Rightness than Law. Law is a very crude instrument and
is often wrong or even illegal, as against its own
Constitution, even.

12. If you must have someone decide on whether you
live or die, would you choose a politician or a
philosopher? Death sentences are killings and are a
matter of common humanity and philosophy, not
politician law. It is ridiculous to exalt law as so
important and correct that it must be upheld in every
instance without exception on the ground that one
single exception can destroy the law or the legal
regime. Try proving that, Mr Latif! And we have not
even argued the possibility that the police and
judicial system may have wrongly convicted an innocent
man or that the punishment may not even fit the crime.
Philosophy would consider the aptness of a law and
question its premises as well as its effectiveness.

13. Does a 'Country' have an inviolable right to enact
and enforce any law as long as it is within its
jurisdiction? Here, we only have to consider some
examples of extra-territorial law. I believe that all
US citizens have to pay income tax even if they are
working abroad. And I believe that some countries
prosecute its citizens for paedophilia even if the
crime is commited abroad. There are probably more
examples. Any lawyer out there?

14. This proves that the notion of a state having
absolute power over its geographical location is also
nebulous. What is a 'Country'? We have not even
considered the phenomenon of the Internet, which is
borderless. Lawmakers are still struggling with
Internet porn, Internet gambling, Internet crime and
even Internet democracy activism. The fact that what
is criminal in one local bully location but perfectly
legal in another bully location proves that law is a
poor invention and an abysmal construct.

15. Mr Latif also moots that Singapore, by applying
its death sentence to the victim is also 'protecting'
Australians from drugs. I think he is quite alone in
this argument. Obviously, the furore in Australia
points the otherwise. I need not elaborate. When
Australian lawmakers plead for the victim, obviously
they don't think they need Singapore's protection in
this instance.

16. Laws must be consistent? In Singapore? Ha, ha, ha,
Mr Latif. Ask LKY about his entire family and clan's
purchase of luxury millions dollars condos to 'buy
cheap and sell dear for profit' illegal discounts from
HPL Properties Ltd? Or LHL, TT, GCT and Vasoo illegal
entry into a polling station to illegal influence
voters? Or LKY rigging Cheng San 1997 elections? Or
LKY crimes against me, my little son and niece? One
should never take the law seriously in Singapore
because LKY himself does not.

17. Mr Latif stresses that laws must be rigidly
applied. I agree. Read Point 16 again.

18. Mr Latif also quotes the Indonesian marines
executed. Well, LKY was young then and less corrupt
than now. Read his Churchillian speeches when he was
in the Opposition and compare with his actions now!

19. Finally, every judicial system convicts sometimes
innocent men and women. Without a doubt or exception.
We read about this all the time about convicts on
death row being found innocent after the real
criminals were finally caught. This is sometimes due
to poor police procedures, poor judging and sometimes
poor laws. Is Singapore so shining and pure that it
does not wrongly convict innocent people? Is our
police so excellent? Our judges so judicious?

20. We are talking about irrevocable death. If you
even admit that some death row could conceivably be
innocent and wrongly convicted due to poor police
procedures or poor judging or poor laws, then you
cannot have the death penalty. Simple as that. In a
society of many languages and cultures, where often
the accused don't even speak English, the language of
the court and police procedures, mistakes must be
plenty. How many innocents have LKY hanged? How can he
sleep so peacefully at nights and frequent catnaps
during his office day? How will he face his Maker when
he goes eventually?

Think Singaporean said...

Moreover, "During his detention, Gerard (JI member) COOPERATED in investigations". Similarly,
".....Nguyen had COOPERATED FULLY with police since his arrest.....because he was willing to give evidence against those responsible for drug trafficking." said Mr Downer (quoted from CNN.com 24/10/05).

Shouldn't the Sg garmen take this into consideration for Nyugen too? No double-standard please....

Think Singaporean said...

No double standard please as he is just another human being, born from the (same)womb of a mother who bears for 10 months'suffering before delivery of their child.

Think Singaporean said...

In addition, SM LEE appeared over the TV one or two weeks ago who said "he could not give any advice (referring to Russia) as whatever method that he'd used in the past would not be applicable in this present society; otherwise he would open a consultancy firm and charge consultancy fees to Int'l Amnesty, WTO, etc and earn millions of dollars...." Isn't this something good to know that our SM Lee finally fully understands that the present society, like Sg, needs to change for the better. Now, let's see how our garmen going to do it......in respect of its economic, administration and legal.

Anonymous said...

wrt to your survey. What do you mean "pro death penalty for all crimes"? Do you mean both murder and drug trafficking, or all crimes as in stealing, arson, etc?

clyde said...

In this discussion, "all crimes" refers to all crimes currently punishable by death. Primarily drug trafficking and murder.

paranoid said...

guess sg really need a patriot!

David E. Patton said...

This post is well said and to the point I like your writting and agree with what you have said.

patriot said...

The incumbent govt routinely labels its critics and dissidents as having hidden agenda, the same could be said of those that openly laud and praise the incumbent. They too have hidden agenda, that is self-profiting but ultimately harmful to the country in the long run. So who is the patriot?

Think Singaporean said...

To be born with a perfect human body with all our senses intact is, indeed, very fortunate to have such "precious" human life. And the distinctive difference between a human being and an animal is that a human being is born with intelligence whereas an animal does not. However, if an animal (a mother) could protect,love and care for their young, what more it is the mother for her child. So, let's not take life for granted because it is so "unique and precious", therefore, we must live our lives MEANINGFULLY by showing our love, care and compassion for each other! I sincerely believe a patriot of such kind is the "best" citizen for his country as well as for the whole world! May there be world peace and harmony, may all beings be well and happy always!

Anonymous said...

in most cases it seems the government does know best.. if only we could see where we would be now if it wasn't for the foresight of our political leaders.

pleinelune said...

No one is disputing that the government HAS done a good job in bringing Singapore to where it is today. BUT, it can do a BETTER job, because times have changed. That is the central message that all "dissidents" have brought across.

HongKonger said...

Human rights take precedent over sovereignty, full stop.