7 Apr 2006

Any difference between the Death Penalty in US and Singapore?



Film Review: Deadline
Screened on 5 April, 2006, The Substation, 8 pm by the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Committee (SAPDC)

After 3 inmates on death row are discovered to be innocent in Illinois, Governor George Ryan, troubled by the findings, decided to set up special clemency hearings for those sentenced to capital punishment. By the end of the hearings, 3 days before he left his office, the elected representative made the difficult decision of pardoning four men and granted blanket clemency to the remaining 167 on death row, virtually unheard of in the country.

It is that period that Deadline has captured unabashedly: interviews with inmates in death row, anti-death penalty activists, academics, and journalists as well as historical footage on the death penalty in the country. It balances precariously among opinions, facts and emotions from different camps not shying away from the sentiments of the victims of the families who insist on the death penalty and those whose son or husband sentenced to death; during the hearing.

Deadline reveals multiple perspectives and doubts on the death penalty including the accuracy and fairness of the policing system and the judiciary when it comes to such controversial cases. Many a times, there is intense pressure on the police to find the murderer and as such, resulting in torture on the suspect during interrogation. Those on death row also happen to be the poor or coloured as one activist puts it bluntly.

What has that got to with with the situation in Singapore ? One might ask.

Plenty I would argue.

In US, only those who committed homicide are sentenced to death. In Singapore, the majority on death row are those sentenced for possessing drugs. Singapore's situation, I would argue, is more disturbing.

This huge difference reveals what the society or at least the government feels strongly against. Are we a society that believes possessing illegal drugs a greater evil than murdering someone? To the extent, we believe the state has the right to kill them? Another disturbing fact revolves around the mandatory death penalty for possession of drugs simply meant the judges do not have any discretion even if mitigating factors are involved.

Many more arguments can and has been made on abolishing the death penalty which is available on the internet (and even within this blog) from the moral, human rights and even economic perspectives.

For those who have seen the film and undecided on the death penalty, the question, they might ask is, “ what has this film got to do with the situation in Singapore” given most of us have always assumed that we are run by an efficient police and judiciary system. Yet, I could not help but suspect this as the most difficult thing to prove.

Instead of asking if there exists differences between the death penalty in Singapore and US (or any other parts of the world), what we should really be aware of are the similarities, what it does in and to society; and most importantly, why it should be abolished.

11 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

Have you heard the music played in Singapore?

Generally speaking — It blows chunks, dude. God almighty, it sucks — that wafting fart, that souless noise where every hang-up is expressed and communicated in sound.

OK, there's alot of c-RAP and other tuneless vomit spewing from the US, but they do have very good music. (Someone please shoot the boy bands... please, and that faux-reggae expatriate — Sting)

Mr Bill Hicks, and Mr Sam Kinison — we need you back here on earth. Sam, scream at them. Bill, you can tell them to "burn their entire record collection", and to "suck Lucifer's cock".

A vibrant arts scene without drugs?

Hahahahahahhaha..... Good luck!

Kelvin Wong said...

I don't think that its accurate to say that the death penalty is only drug offense, although there are indeed more death sentences on drug related crimes than homicide. The skew occurs probably because more people have committed drug crimes than homicide in Singapore and as such the skewed perspective.

Are we against death penalty totally or are we just against death penalty for drug crimes? If its the former, will this group protest to US Courts and human rights if they sentence Mr. Moussaoui who is now on trial for 811 incident. Will they protest against a death sentence for him?

Anonymous said...

My point of view is - we shall care for and work it out within our own society's first. Ignore what other countries are still practising such law.

If we can go by no death penalty for any crimes and prove that without death penalty, we can still reduce the crime rates, then we can actually set a good example to the whole world to see.

I think there are some countries already practising it. In this connection, we shall then affirm the law of "NO" death penalty.

antipathy said...

It is difficult to prove deterrance as it is a question of correlance and causality.

What the death penalty does definately do is act as a prophylactic. The individuals involved in such acts no longer can commit such acts. Thus if you execute the serial killer, it means X number of people are saved each year from him.
If you execute the drug trafficker, it means X number of people do not get a source of drugs from him. Execute enough, you skyrocket the price, and less drug offences will occur.
Sorry if it sounds cruel but that is what is reality.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I disagree with your pt of view.

If executed the criminal, the criminal no doubt receives its punishment in law. The person just died. But other potential criminals do not have the exact feelings, the exact experience of sufferings of that executed criminal. In other words, the potential criminals may not be able to put themselves in the shoes of that particular executed criminal to be able to fully understand and realise how much sufferings of that particular executed person had gone through. Therefore, the core of societal problems remains and the crime rate can't be reduced.

Moreover, in the case of drug traffickers, he or she may or may not be drug addicts too. There are many reasons for their involvements in committing the crime.

From the past discussion abt this subject in previous postings, we have some statistics and also shown on TV programmes which evidenced that most of the convicts usually come from poor environment, poor family background, unemployed, no or low educated group of people.

Usually, these people were lack of love and concern from their family members. So, they turn to their friends for help and for companionship. But most of time, they came into contact with bad companion of friends. Eventually, they got themselves into addiction and smuggling,etc. That is how they got themselves into such troubles.

As for the killing, the afflictive emotions, such as jealousy, anger, hatred, which are the root causes of the problem. I believe these people do not wish to commit the crimes but at the spur of that moment due to the arising of these afflictive emotions, which they could not control themselves and hence lost their senses to think well and committed the crime. After the incident, I believe they would feel very remorseful about their wrongdoings.

To me, even if you were to execute them, would the dead people come to life again. The answer is obviously NO. But if were to just simply imprison them and through much counselling as well as from the love and concern from their family members and friends, this would certainly propel them to feel more regretful for what they had done and would also inspired them to wanting to change over a new leaf.

Moreover, based on religious reason, execution is equivalent to the act of killing. Therefore, it would similarly cause oneself and those involved in the process of the execution to fall into hell. And the sufferings in the hell is incredibly unbearable. So, I strongly believe to give others a chance to repent for what they have done and at the same be able to do some good deeds would certainly help them after they die.

If these criminals were given a chance to live and turn over a new leaf, they could become excellent exemplars to his siblings, children or companion friends, etc not to follow his footsteps. They could then one day in turn be able to act as counsellors to other innates or potential criminals. In this way, do you think the crime rate will go down? Of course, it is easier said than done. There are alot of work and effort, both from the side of govt, society as well as family members, friends and relatives have to cooperate in order to make it happen and be successful.

To reiterate, I strongly believe to mix with the RIGHT party of friends is very important.

At the same time, it is good to embrace a religion - I mean a TRUE AND GOOD religion that teaches us the CORRECT understanding of the teachings so that we could cultivate the RIGHT VALUES in life. Then, we shall be able to discern what is a RIGHT ACTION and what is a WRONG ACTION so that we could walk the RIGHT PATH in our life with NO REGRETS at all. But of course, family values, socio-cultural values also play an important role.

Anonymous said...

"...those involved in the process of the execution" include:

- one who set the law
- one who confer the law
- one who gives the permission to
execute
- one who actually carry out the
execution
- one who agree and rejoice at the
execution

So, be careful not to be one of those mentioned above bec to fall into hell, one will be there for EONS until the negative force is fully exhausted. Just imagine that one day in the hell is about as long as one year in human life. So, for "eons" to undergo intense sufferings there??? how do feel about it???

By being in the prison isn't good enough to receive the punishment for the wrongdoings? To be remorseful is suffering and is indeed a punishment in itself.

ycbi said...

There are many reasons as to why capital punishment is wrong . but the overiding factor is that as humans both in the past and in the future we have and will condem inocent human beings .If sociaty can live with that then it can live with enything !

Matilah_Singapura said...

There are a few reasons why, under certain circumstances, capital punishment is absolutely right:

1 Justice

2 Retribution

People who murder need to be killed in return.

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