30 Nov 2005

Singapore digs in as execution looms

Aljazeera.com

Wednesday 30 November 2005 5:58 AM GMT


Nguyen Tuong Van is scheduled to die on Friday

Singapore has dismissed calls to save a young Australian drug smuggler from imminent hanging despite threats of retaliation from his compatriots and condemnation from international human rights groups.

With less than 48 hours to go before Nguyen Tuong Van's execution at Changi Prison, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Singapore's envoy to Australia have made it clear the execution of the former south Vietnamese refugee would go ahead.

Lee, currently in Europe, told French newspaper Le Figaro that the death penalty "is necessary and is part of the criminal justice system", rejecting claims that executing people for non-violent crimes is out of date and inhuman.

"We also think that drug trafficking is a crime that deserves the death penalty. The evil inflicted on thousands of people with drug trafficking demands that we must tackle the source by punishing the traffickers rather than trying to pick up the pieces afterwards," he said.

"It's a law which is approved of by Singapore's inhabitants and which allows us to reduce the drug problem," the son of Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew said before calling on French President Jacques Chirac.

"It's a law which is approved of by Singapore's inhabitants and which allows us to reduce the drug problem"

Lee Hsien Loong,
Singapore prime minister

Some private groups and opposition politicians in Australia have called for sanctions against Singapore, but Prime Minister John Howard has adopted a more restrained approach and sought clemency for Nguyen.

Singapore's high commissioner in Canberra, Joseph Koh, in an opinion piece published on Wednesday in Australian newspapers, dismissed what he said were "fictions" about the Nguyen case.

Supporters of the Vietnamese-born man, who said he agreed to be a drug mule to help pay off his twin brother's debts, say mitigating circumstances including his cooperation with investigators justified commuting his death sentence to a prison term.

But Koh said: "The information that Mr Nguyen provided to the Singapore authorities was of limited value, and was, in fact, intended to mislead and delay the investigation."

Arrest

Nguyen was arrested at Changi Airport - near the prison where he will be hanged - three years ago carrying 396 grams of heroin strapped to his back from Cambodia to Australia.

Singapore officials say the amount is enough to supply drug abusers 26,000 doses.

"Contrary to assertions, the death penalty has no unique deterrent effect in relation to drugs or other serious crimes"

Timothy Parritt,
Amnesty International

In Singapore, possession of more than 15g of heroin is deemed as trafficking and punishable by a mandatory death sentence.

Amnesty International says Singapore has the world's highest execution rate relative to its population of just 4.2 million, including resident foreigners.

About 420 prisoners were sent to the gallows between 1991 and 2004, Amnesty said.

Singapore's Home Affairs Ministry says 66 Singaporeans and 22 foreigners have been executed between 2001 and September 2005.

Timothy Parritt, a researcher for Amnesty's Southeast Asia team, said the watchdog was "unaware of any scientific studies" showing the death penalty was a greater deterrent than other forms of punishment.

"Contrary to assertions, the death penalty has no unique deterrent effect in relation to drugs or other serious crimes. The certainty of arrest, prosecution and the prospect of long periods of imprisonment form the basis of effective deterrence," he said.

Parritt added that Amnesty regarded the death penalty "as the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights" and stressed that "no criminal justice system is immune from error, and the risk of miscarriages of justice can never be excluded".

Meanwhile, envoy Koh also dismissed allegations that Singapore's drug policies were hypocritical because it backs military-ruled Myanmar, a major heroin producer.

The charges were "an old falsehood" propagated by a Singapore opposition leader, Chee Soon Juan, he said, adding that the city-state's investments in Myanmar are "straightforward" commercial transactions.

He said the Singapore cabinet deliberated at length on Nguyen's clemency petition and considered all relevant factors but decided not to treat him differently.

"We are all touched by the pain and anguish of Mr Nguyen's mother, but if we waver in our firm position against drug trafficking, many more families will be shattered," he added.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stop with "the evils of drugs/trafficking" already! It's absurd to put the blame on the smuggler...and smoking kills more people every day!

I am not a Christian (worshipper), but if Singapore ever faces some huge crisis in future - natural or otherwise - you'll know it's retribution by God.

chris said...

""It's a law which is approved of by Singapore's inhabitants and which allows us to reduce the drug problem"

Lee Hsien Loong,
Singapore prime minister"

NO WAY! AM I NOT AN INHABITANT OF SINGAPORE?

Oh well... We never had a voice...

Think Singaporean said...

Exactly! It is the sg govt who imposed such law and we NEVER had a voice to agree nor suggest otherwise.

Death penalty is a form of "Killing" which is definitely against any religious point of view.

It would be a good idea NOW that both the activists and the sg govt carry out surveys to hear the voices of the sg inhibitants instead.

Anonymous said...

I suppose you are denying the latest yahoo! Singapore poll that showed a clear majority supports capital punishment for drug smuggling.

Think Singaporean said...

"Singapore poll that showed a clear majority supports capital punishment for drug smuggling."

Can one poll more than one time?

Anonymous said...

Shame on Singapore! I am a Singaporean and I am ashamed to hear that the Singapore inhabitants take pleasure in putting another human being to hang to die! Even animals in this country are HUMANELY put down?!I beg to differ - I am NOT one of those inhabitants, Mr Prime Minister, who you talked about.

I wish and pray that may all these bloody Singaporeans who have this love affair with hanging one day meet as vile, as horrific and a violent end and that their loved ones be tormented by the horrific memory of their vile end. Enough already...Hanging is barbaric...period!

phil said...

Death penalty is a form of "Killing" which is definitely against any religious point of view.

Luckily, the good thing is we're not bound by any religions otherwise zealots like you may climb over my head.

I wish and pray that may all these bloody Singaporeans who have this love affair with hanging one day meet as vile, as horrific and a violent end and that their loved ones be tormented by the horrific memory of their vile end. Enough already...Hanging is barbaric...period!.

Your human rights I guess.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Phil, my human rights, if you will. What goes around comes around, man. This stuff is too deep for people who take things *literally*.


I wish and pray that may all these bloody Singaporeans who have this love affair with hanging one day meet as vile, as horrific and a violent end and that their loved ones be tormented by the horrific memory of their vile end. Enough already...Hanging is barbaric...period!.

Your human rights I guess.

Think Singaporean said...

"Luckily, the good thing is we're not bound by any religions otherwise zealots like you may climb over my head."

Do not feel too lucky to say such thing yet! Whether you're bound by any religion or not, it doesn't matter. But you'll reap what you sow! If you plant the apple seeds, you'll definitely reap the fruits of apples and not other types of fruits at all. This is mere LOGIC and is the universal law of cause and effect.

Anonymous said...

Right on, Think Singaporean. Like I said, what goes around comes around. That is the law of the universe. We have too many black-and-white people walking around her who only look at the immediate here and now.

I wish people would seek to educate themselves. Even if one agrees with the principle that drugs are serious enough to send people to death, it's disturbing that drug-related death sentences are handed out really because the law says so and judges do not have any discretion to consider mitigating circumstances, whatsoever.

Are the Singapore inhabitants truly comfortable and happy with a broad sweeping law that says that you will die even though a desperate bonafide trafficker
had bribed baggage staff at Changi Airport to put his drugs into your luggage? And that it doesn't matter that you were sabotaged and someone planted them on you. This can happen to ANYONE at ANYTIME (yes, you or your loved ones!) so please take the broader view in mind. What goes around comes around.

Commander Oneshot said...

The deterrence argument against the death penalty, or for it, misses the point entirely. A society should punish for the purpose of dealing with the crime and also to show those in society that obey the laws that the law is worth upholding. If Singapore was to stop it's approach to drug trafficking, it could expect to have a situation like America has, in which drug addicts commit crime after crime after crime. Most everyone who gets arrested in the States is a drug addict. Some of you Singaporeans don't know what you have. Take care lest Western liberals rob you of it.

Anonymous said...

"Can one poll more than one time?"

I'm guessing that people on both sides of the fence have the equal opportunity to submit their votes more than once.

Indeed, what goes around comes around. If Singapore abolishes the death penalty, people who don't mind spending their life in jail would traffick drugs. Drug smugglers would live, while drug addicts would have better access to drugs, and their families would be put through emotional hell. Of course, drug addicts dying in straitjackets are a lot less visible than Nguyen's death, so protesters wouldn't feel bad about themselves. They would think the world is rosy because they can't see the pain drugs brings to families. Yippee.

Do you know how hypocritical you appear?

Anonymous said...

Correction: It turns out, you cannot vote more than once.

http://post.polls.yahoo.com/quiz/quizresults.php?poll_id=9942&wv=1

Anon 5.13

Anonymous said...

God fuck blood-thirsty Singaporeans!

Anonymous said...

what about the 47% of aussies? they say he go to gallows to.

Think Singaporean said...

Well, to those who are supportive of death penalty for drug trafficking or to some who even rejoice at others.

If one day you're being planted with drug by someone else, then you'll become an object of compassion. By then, you'll probably hope that the law is different from now.

Anonymous said...

come on bastards, if you don't see yourselves as singaporeans, move all your mother fucking asses out of here and rot in hell. we don't need trash like you.