4 Nov 2006

Singapore Government Takes Away Another Life.

There can be so much arguments on the death penalty but a story like this shows how senseless state sanctioned murder is.

Filtered through the lens of journalism - the report wants us to believe that Took exhibits a sense of calm. Truth or Illusion? Nobody knows except the man himself.

The media will like us to believe that this was how it ended. It will however not report what happened at the actual execution - how cruel, cold, brutal and barbaric it is. If people can see for themselves what the death penalty is, many among us will denounce the death penalty.

The media has no access to the actual execution; and hence, is paid and forced to write an article which the state wants us to believe. This article surfaces to tell us the tragedy of murder - an eye for an eye. It is a cautionary tale spun to make us believe that Singapore believes in justice.

Yet, it will never tell us the truth...


A picture of calm
Murderer Took did not look like a man about to die in the days before his hanging
Weekend • November 4, 2006

Ansley Ng

IN THE last few photographs of him taken when he was alive, child killer Took Leng How did not look like a man who had only a few days to live.

Took, 24, who was hanged at dawn at Changi Prison on Friday, had asked for pictures of himself to be taken before his execution for the murder of eight-year-old Huang Na. The former vegetable packer was sentenced to death for killing the Chinese national in October 2004.

The Court of Appeal upheld the decision in January this year. Last week, President S R Nathan rejected Took's plea for a pardon.

In more than two dozen photographs taken in prison on Monday, Took — wearing a black suit that his mother had bought him specially for the photo session — was all smiles.

Flashing his trademark grin and thrusting his chest towards the camera, his exuberance suggested that he wanted to leave his family with only good memories.

On Friday, after he was embalmed and dressed in the same suit he wore for the photo shoot, Took's body was taken to a funeral parlour in Sin Ming Drive.

A handful of family members — including his parents and Chinese Indonesian wife Yuli — turned up to chant Buddhist prayers.

Took's mother Loo Swee Heow and father Took Long Lai showed no emotion throughout most of the proceedings.

Speaking calmly to the media, Mr Took said his son's last words were for them to take care of his wife and three-year-old son, Soon Wang.

But when the undertaker told his family to take one last look at his body before closing the coffin — leaving only his face visible — Madam Loo broke down and thumped her fists on a pillar, wailing: "Give me back my son!"

Took's father refused to enter the parlour to have a final look at his son.

Mdm Yuli, clutching a letter that Took had written to her hours before his execution, broke down in tears after reading it.

Took, addressing his wife as "Mak" (mother in Malay), apologised for creating the "situation they are in".

Mdm Yuli could stay with his family as long as she liked, he wrote, or she could return to her hometown in Medan.

He thanked his wife for the love notes she had written him over the months he was in custody.

"People can die, but love doesn't," Took wrote in neat handwriting, then drawing a heart. "My love for you will never die."

Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd. All rights reserved.


whybegay said...

See what I wrote about Wee Shu Min at my blog.

Capt_Canuck said...

From what I read on various blogs and in papers (not singapore papers mind you but other papers) Van Tong Nguyen was the same way, peaceful and calmly, almost, 'accepting' his fate. Some might say it is propoganda bollocks from the papers. Personally I think it is calmness.

Consider this, have you ever been bullied at school or in the work place? has anyone ever said to you "I am gonna beat the tar out of you"? I have, and let me tell you, it was absolute hell wondering when it was going to happen. When the bully was going to attack and beat me up. I could have gone to the teachers or parents and say but I had no specific time so I couldnt say "watch me I am going to get beat up at this time". When the beating did come in the form of him saying "at 2pm you are beaten" I was almost relieved cause the hell was over. Granted, I did have other things to keep me preoccupied and my mind off the impending beating.

Now consider being on death row in Singapore where the court says "you are to be hung by the neck til dead" but they dont give you a time or date that it is going to happen. You sit in prison, you file your appeals and then you wait for the time that they say "ok, all appeal things are done, time is up, you have one week". After a year of laying around a prison cell, agonizing about when you are going to die, having watched your loved ones send letters, fight for your life, and go through all sorts of appeal process knowing that they are going to get turned down because Singapore law can not make an exception for one or else they have to make that exception for all. When death finally comes, you might also be calm and happy that it is over so that your loved ones can move on.

Or perhaps it is just a case of courage on the dead man walkings part. After all, would you want the last image your parents see of you to be someone plastered up against the glass in a holding cell, crying and screaming out "save me..save me..if you loved me you would save me!" and have that image torment your loved ones to their dying day? or would you rather have the last image in their minds be one of your peaceful happy smiling face saying nothing but kindess and love in your eyes, heart and mouth?

Just cause Singapore laws are strict and harsh and unforgiving, doesnt mean those on death row have to be.

xanon said...

its ironic. people campaigned so much for Nguyen but nobody campaigned for Took. isn't it clear double standards?

Anonymous said...

"This article surfaces to tell us the tragedy of murder - an eye for an eye."

Unfortunately a pair of learned 'eyes' - that of a high court judge - did not see it as a clear case of murder by Took.

So I would not say with certainty that it is correctly an eye for an eye. And that is what the Cabinet (which advises the President) and President Nathan (holding the ultimate decision) has to live with the rest of their lives. God bless them. God bless Singapore.

Anonymous said...

In Took's case, there wasn't a 100% clear cut case that it was murder and do remember there was 1 dissenting opinion in the Court of Appeal. Sofar, he's been convicted on circumstantial evidence.
Judges are human too and are not
infallible. Imagine some years on, we uncovered evidence to suggest he should be tried at the most on manslaughter, are we going to go to his grave and said, Mr Took, you can wake up now and free to go?
His sentence should have been commuted .
In fact, death penalty should have been abolished. It has no place in
a modern humane civilised society

lee hsien tau said...

What can 'I do my stretching exercises in the pantry to maintain my figure' Dorothy be up to now?

smtp1.khattarwong.com (Starhubinternet)

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Anonymous said...

also Took's lawyer said one of the psycharists had proven Took was suffered from some mental disorder.

anyway, whether Took was actually guilty of the case, only the Lord of Death would know the actual truth.

However, those who sentenced him to death penalty would certainly create very bad karma and their consequences would be of fatal one, including those who rejoiced at his penalty - that is to be reborn in the hell realm according to one of the Sutra (a Buddhist scripture).

As such, do you think "an eye for an eye" is a good punishment and justification of the law?? Is it worthwhile to give someone a pre-meditated death at one's (indicating the judge, the executioner, the President, etc) own expense, which is that for sure these ppl would be reborn in the hell realm to suffer tremendously for eons whereas the one who received the death penalty may or may not be reborn in the hell realm unless the criminal did actually committed the murder??

Isn't it very stupid to have death penalty? Why not let the Lord of Death to determine the criminal's fate instead? I believe there are many other religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and others also believe there is such thing as hell and heaven!!!

Anonymous said...

Similar notion of death sentence or self-sucide is the recent topic on Advance Medical Directive (AMD) - basically Singapore's form of legalised euthanasia - is an issue for concern and is also debatable.

Once signed, it is irrevocable.

To those who have religious faith such as Buddhism, it is not holistic bec it is just like premediated death. In the buddist point of view, so long as one's consciousness has not left the body, one is still alive. Even when one is in coma, medically it is brain-dead but his/her subtle consciousness is still operating within the body and hence the patient is still able to feel and hear though he/she has lost its senses of taste and touch.

As such, at this point of time, his family members or monks/nuns still could do prayers by his bedside to implant positive karma seeds in his/her mental consciousness, which is apparently good for his/her future lives.

ycbi said...

It is not about guilt or inocence the reality is that if enyone condems another person to death for whatever reason, that or those persons are then guilty of MURDER .

Capt_Canuck said...

ycbi - ok, then using your logic, the Singaporean Courts condemned Took and Nguyen (along with hundreds of others) to death so therefore they are guilty of murder. How come we dont see the judges on death row then?

I remember a case from years before in Singapore where 4 men were executed for murder. 3 broke into the house, 2 stangled the guy with a lamp cord, one kept a look out for police and the 4th waited outside as another look out. All four were executed because while the 2 did not do the murder, it was decided that they stood by and allowed the murder to happen and therefore were guilty of murder and should be executed. So, since the Singaporean public does nothing to stop the murder (that your logic of condemning death and all implies) shouldn't that mean that the entire population of Singapore are guilty of murder, since everyone stands by and does nothing to stop the death penalty? and the punishment for murder is death by hanging. So, when do we start hanging the 4 million citizens? Executionary is definitly gonna make a killing on that day huh?

Anonymous said...

If the one of the worlds' greatest
religious figure, Guatama , believes in the sanctity of life, what right do we as layman, have in
taking another purely on the "an eye for an eye" principle. Most
mature democracries have already done with the death penalty but we
still hold the dubious record as the highest death sentence meted out on a per capita basis.Imagine we managed to beat China on that front.
The death penalty is nothing but a tool used by politicians to show they are tough on crimes and also to dispense away the state responsibity of having to feed the guilty if they are confined in prisons.Putting away the guilty for life doesn't mean we are less tough, but it also shows we are human and compassionate.

lee hsien tau said...

The moral of the story is:

When you accidentally kill one person, you must kill another (Took will know who), and do it not 2 hours later, but the next day, and then flee to the Land of Oz.

Then you won't swing from the end of a rope, but get in all about 24 years. If you're in a hurry to do the next one in, do take about a day before carrying out your plan. Else you risk life imprisonment.

Optionally, it's also safer to apply skin whitening substance on your rear.

Anonymous said...

To their credit our current Prison Services are a lot more humane than most of you think. And regardless of their religions and opinions, most of them do try to make things as easy as possible for those on death row - some even going beyond their call of duty to help facilitate some of those "last wishes".

Perhaps one day capital punishment will become a thing of the past. But until that day comes, I think we all have to recognise what the purpose of capital punishment is. In short, it is to deter another Huang Na case from occurring. True, hanging Took will not bring Huang Na back - but let's recognise the sacrifice that both Huang Na and Took's families are making now to prevent future occurrences, rather than focus so much on whether capital punishment is right or wrong.

I shall not even begin arguing on religious grounds, because everyone holds onto their own set of beliefs so strongly it is sometimes pointless to push them onto the defensive.

But someone did mention about mature democracies doing away with capital punishment. Let's just take the example of the US. By allowing guns in their country, I believe, that the number of murders caused by gunfire crimes will easily surpass anything our government can dish out. Protecting human rights? A load of bull - it is merely indirect sentencing of death for victims of gunfire crimes.

And claiming that capital punishment is a way to dispense away responsibility to feed the guilty is an insult to the system, the value of life, and to the recipient of capital punishment. You've got to do better than that to convince anyone.

- Impassioned Singaporean

Anonymous said...

anon 05:22:12 mentioned that our prison service is alot humane than we thought. Does this treatment come from the govt directive or does this come from the compassionate behavior of the prison officer as human being to another human being.
Nobody here mentions here about making possession of firearms here legal. All we are talking about is doing away the death penalty. The 2
are different issues all together.

Anonymous said...

I find it incomprehensible that you, after telling us that
the media :-

1. has no access to the actual execution;
2. is forced to write an article which the state wants;
3. will not report what happened at the actual execution;
4. filters its report through the lens of journalism, and
5. will never tell us the truth...

then go on to append the whole media (Today) report.

Tsk, tsk... creditability is certainly scarce these days.