29 Jan 2007

Singapore's Death Penalty and Blog Posts

Below is written by me for me. Comment if you like.

I am concerned with using technology or software to understand the discourse of the Singapore blogosphere.

I am very much aware of the limitations of using technorati to monitor topics online, and I am faced with the issue of which terms/words to search for, Singapore, Death Penalty, Singapore Death Penalty, can merely give an indication of the number of blog posts referring to the terms that I have decided to isolate. 'Penalty' could of course refer to football. There are other terms and words as well as events that may have increased the use of these terms by Singaporean bloggers but have nothing to do with the Singapore geographic context. One example is the recent Saddam hanging.

So what can I claim, I think I can claim that the graphs show 1,600 in December to just over 200 on Jan 29th posts on the global blogosphere mentioning the term death penalty, pro or against cannot be ascertained. While during the same period around 25 posts containing Singapore and the death penalty occurred. Again pro or against is not discernible. For the same 30 day period 1,200 to 1,600 posts contained 'Singapore' in the item. But am I able to assert that 1,200 blogger wrote about Singapore and 25 wrote about the death penalty, I think that is an inference too far, if simply based on using a technorati search engine.

Posts that contain Singapore per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart

Posts that contain Death Penalty per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart

Posts that contain Singapore, Death Penalty per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart

So are the Singapore aggregator blogs simply showing a 'truer' picture of the Singapore blogosphere's dscourse? Or are all Singapore bloggers uninterested in the death penalty. Recent posts have indicated that there are bloggers prepared to air their views on the death penalty both pro and against. Maybe posts about the death penalty are just in the minority and reflecting the local dis-interest or possibly global dis-interest.

These graphs are very limited in terms of looking at the linguistics and the social and political concerns of the bloggers but they do raise some interesting debates. For the same 30 day period 'The Straits Times' appeared in blog posts between 50 and 100 times (approx.). Possibly the writers are attacking and undermining reporters errors, maybe the are linking to snippets of articles or the forum pages. I have no idea.

Posts that contain Straits Times per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart

The international press picked up on a story that they feel has a global relevance, global being the operative word.

What I am concerned with, as well as Tochi and Malachy's hanging, is what I experience on a daily basis of reading Singapore aggregators and Singapore blogs is that there is almost zero and I mean zero concern with issues on a global scale.

Is the Singapore blogosphere isolated from the wider global blogophere?

Related Links
Singapore Blogosphere - No Topic
Mapping the Blogosphere By Elia Diodati
Data Mining: Text Mining, Visualization and Social Media

Another way to search for trends is via blogpulse.

Singapore and Death Penalty is the just visible green line at the bottom



11 comments:

Capt_Canuck said...

I think what the graphs show is what we are experiencing over here in Canada. I hear about a gun shooting in a university that kills two people and I shrug and go "eh, what else is new?" because we hear about it so often. In Singapore, there are so many executions for everything from murder to drugs (for instance, the 'one eyed dragon' in court now, the step dad that killed his 2 year old step daughter, Took that just got hanged a few months ago, Nguyen of a couple years ago, plus the 6-8 individuals that just got picked up with the largest herion drug bust in years that all will be facing the death penality). When a Singaporean reads the last line at the end of the limited articles "on conviction, he will face the death penalty", maybe they just shrug their shoulders and go "what else is new, lah?"

That is, also consider the amount of news coverage that all these events get. Any news article glorifies the justice system and the gov't for their 'hard work and determination to make your country safe' but I didnt read a single article in the online news that I could get my hands on that even mentioned the judges words of 'reasonable doubt of his knowledge of the drug..' or Took's 2-1 appeal decision. For that sort of information, I had to go to blogs and other peoples information, and even then I have to doubt whether it is factual from the source or if it is some person spreading lies trying to gain support with false informaions.

So, Singaporean lack of interest in the death penalty could just be a double case of habituation and desensitization to it since it happens so often, and total lack of equal and trustworthy news reporting.

Capt_Canuck said...

I think what the graphs show is what we are experiencing over here in Canada. I hear about a gun shooting in a university that kills two people and I shrug and go "eh, what else is new?" because we hear about it so often. In Singapore, there are so many executions for everything from murder to drugs (for instance, the 'one eyed dragon' in court now, the step dad that killed his 2 year old step daughter, Took that just got hanged a few months ago, Nguyen of a couple years ago, plus the 6-8 individuals that just got picked up with the largest herion drug bust in years that all will be facing the death penality). When a Singaporean reads the last line at the end of the limited articles "on conviction, he will face the death penalty", maybe they just shrug their shoulders and go "what else is new, lah?"

That is, also consider the amount of news coverage that all these events get. Any news article glorifies the justice system and the gov't for their 'hard work and determination to make your country safe' but I didnt read a single article in the online news that I could get my hands on that even mentioned the judges words of 'reasonable doubt of his knowledge of the drug..' or Took's 2-1 appeal decision. For that sort of information, I had to go to blogs and other peoples information, and even then I have to doubt whether it is factual from the source or if it is some person spreading lies trying to gain support with false informaions.

So, Singaporean lack of interest in the death penalty could just be a double case of habituation and desensitization to it since it happens so often, and total lack of equal and trustworthy news reporting.

Matilah_Singapura said...

>> What I am concerned with, as well as Tochi and Malachy’s hanging, is what I experience on a daily basis of reading Singapore aggregators and Singapore blogs is that there is almost zero and I mean zero concern with issues on a global scale. <<

Soci, inasmuch as I consider myself the consistent bearer of bad news — and might I add, I really get off on it — it brings me no pleasure whatsoever to tell you that the cold hard facts we see tell the true story:

Most people — in the blogsphere and the general public — don't give a rat's arse (Non gratum anus rodentum) about stuff that doesn't affect them — directly, in the present. No one gives a crap about STUPID, but unfortunate folks who bring drugs across the territorial borders.

[Time to make some generalisations]

For over three decades now Singaporeans have been conditioned by periodic shocks of a drug-related execution. The man-in-the-street, a demographic you've failed to understand on this particular issue, is pro-capital punishment with regards to drug trafficking.

It is a historical fact, that the influential Singapore Government has been instrumental in influencing every country in SE Asia to adopt the death penalty for drug-trafficking. In many SE Asian states, the death penalty is mandatory if one is caught peddling drugs.

And you know what? The majority of people (we're talking political democracy here) in SE Asia support their states' hard line on drugs. Many voters have children, remember that.

These voters have been told — over and over again — the story about the scourge of drugs and how it destroys lives. Rigid conservative and traditional values. Why traditional? To many of the older Chinese people, the widespread drug-addiction (opium) in their past is a black mark in their history. The fact that they lost Hong Kong in a war with the biggest Drug Barons in the world at the time — The British East India Company — buy from India, sell to China. And they hated competition, so it was a monopoly.

Even when the import of opium was forbidden by The Emperor, the British wantonly flouted the laws and kept on pushing dope. Many Chinese were HOOKED on opium. With drugs comes sex, and in Asian societies, especially in China, rulers determined and constructed moral standards which they enforced in law — laws anchored in Confucian political philosophy. Also bear in mind that Emperor's were considered Divine — as sons of heaven they had the first, last and only word on societal issues.

Everyone in Asia was witness to the the drug-addiction which was limited to the Chinese. Of course, man has been getting high and having a party from the beginning — look how people get pissed on alcohol — legally, so to me it is unfortunate that history refers to (almost exclusively) Chinese opium smokers. Everyone else, including the Westerners were getting stoned on dope, but the Chinese got singled out, as it was a fixture in their culture at the time.

Everywhere in the world where there was a Chinatown, there would be opium dens. And of course there was lots prostitution going on too. Gin tonic, a full pipe of opium, a luscious, comely Oriental wench, a private room — the Western male was having a jolly good time. Who can blame them?

Thaksin went one step further — the line had been crossed already, so what the heck? — he gave the cops extraordinary powers to EXECUTE drug suspects. Executing suspects. Just fuck the constitution off and give due process the middle-finger. And I shout one for the fans of democracy out there — authoritarian behaviour is an attack on democracy.

The folks involved in the anti-death penalty campaign have a serious uphill battle. What they've failed to see is the cultural fixtures — the memes, so to speak — regarding drugs and historical reasons behind banning the stuff.

The first place these activists have to start, is infiltrate all the Social Science faculties and kick those lazy tenured professors up their arses. Professors already active — kick your slacker colleagues up the bum. Put that fucking tenure on the line. Go against the grain, meet the anachronistic and brutal cultural fixture and smash it. Hit it until it is totally wrecked, and don't stop until the job is done. Now that would be a good start.

The next people to wake up from their beauty sleep are the lawyers. And yes, go at the law faculties. Smack them back into Common Law. Many egos will be bruised here.

Now that would be fun.

Anonymous said...

I hereby accuse you, soci, of being either
A. ignorant of the facts of the case
B. deliberately suppressing the facts of the case
C. working with party or parties unknown to paint a sentimentalised picture of an innocent boy, a victim of judicial procedure, when
D. available evidence clearly points towards Tochi

Public Prosecutor v Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Another
[2005] SGHC 233

4 On 27 November 2004, at about 1.45pm, the first accused, a Nigerian national, flew into Singapore Changi Airport from Dubai. On 28 November, he went to the Ambassador Transit Hotel (“the hotel”) at Terminal 2 and asked for a room but none was available. When a room became available, the supervisor of the hotel noticed that he had been in the transit area for more than 24 hours and was due to return to Dubai on 30 November. In compliance with set procedures, she informed the airport police about the first accused. The airport police did not respond immediately but subsequently despatched three officers to interview the first accused.

5 The first accused was told that the police were coming to interview him before he could check in. When he was told that, he went away from the reception area of the hotel to the other areas of the transit area.

6 When the officers arrived about 20 minutes later, they introduced themselves and brought him back to the reception area of the hotel where they questioned him. He told them that he had come from Dubai and that he had come to Singapore to get trials with football clubs in Singapore. He admitted that no arrangements had been made with any club, and that he intended to approach the football federation for assistance. He also told the officers that he did not enter Singapore because he was told that he needed to have $2000 to enter, and he did not have the money. He had expected his father to send him the money, but his father did not send it.

7 The officers decided to conduct a search, which was carried out at the shower counter to the rear of the reception area. The first accused brought with him to the counter area a dark blue Converse sling bag (“the blue bag”) and a white “Dubai Duty Free” plastic bag (“the white plastic bag”).

8 The officers said that many items were discovered when they searched the blue bag. The most significant of the items were a red bucket-shaped “Maltesers” container, a pair of gloves and a pair of shoes. The 100 capsules which are the subject matter of the charges were found in the blue bag and in the Maltesers container, the gloves and the shoes. The capsules were securely wrapped in layers of aluminium foil, adhesive tape and plastic covering the core of powdery substance containing diamorphine.

9 When the first accused was asked if the capsules were chocolate he confirmed they were. When he was asked again if they were chocolate, he said they were actually herbs from Africa which tasted like chocolate, which gave strength when eaten, and he swallowed one capsule on his own. (He was later warded in hospital and induced to purge the capsule intact.)

10 The officers decided to cut open a capsule. When they suspected that the contents were drugs, they stopped the search and the Central Narcotics Bureau (“CNB”) was notified. At the same time, the first accused and his bags were moved from the shower counter to Room 302 (“the hotel room”) of the hotel.



The first accused’s investigation statements

26 Four investigation statements were recorded from the first accused in the course of investigations which were admitted in evidence without objection from him. These four statements can be placed into two categories, the first two recorded on 1 and 2 December 2004 and the second two recorded on 7 and 17 February 2005. The division is made because the first accused stated in the third statement of 7 February 2005 that he wanted to tell the truth on the advice of members of the Nigeria High Commission who visited him. The implication was that where the contents of the first two statements and the contents of the last two statements differed, the versions in the last two statements were the truth.

27 In the first statement the first accused stated that he came into Singapore from Dubai with the blue bag and the white plastic bag, and that he had bought a container of Maltesers chocolates that he had put into the white plastic bag. However, he claimed that the police officers who interviewed him brought with them another white plastic bag, and that the capsules were contained in that bag, and that he swallowed one of the capsules at the insistence of the police officers. In the second statement, he said that he was instructed to call Smith when he was in the hotel room, and he called Smith and told him that he was with the police, and that he made another call to Smith when the police brought a black man into the hotel room whom he had not seen before.

28 When he declared that he was going to tell the truth in his third statement of 7 February 2005, he said that he went to Pakistan with the intention of travelling on to Dubai to play football there. After he arrived at Karachi he found that he could not get to Dubai from Pakistan. He remained in Karachi, where he subsequently met Smith. He told Smith of his intention to go to Dubai, and Smith agreed to help him. He travelled with Smith from Karachi to Kabul, Afghanistan and then to Dubai airport, but was unable to enter Dubai. At the airport, Smith asked him to deliver something in a bag to his friend, Marshal, in Singapore, who was sick. Smith showed him a photograph of Marshal and told him that Marshal would give him money to enter Singapore. Smith also gave him a plastic bag containing chocolates and sweets.

32 The first accused also elaborated that Smith had instructed him to go to Terminal 2. When he did not see Marshal there, he called Smith and Smith told him that Marshal had missed his flight and instructed him to check into the transit hotel. Smith also gave him Marshal’s telephone number. He called Marshal, and Marshal told him that he had missed his flight, but he should be arriving in the evening.

33 The first accused added that after he was brought to the hotel room, he made three telephone calls to Smith and was told by Smith to wait for Marshal at the Coffee Bean café.

Evaluation of the case against the first accused

47 Counsel made much of the first accused’s youth. The first accused was 18 years old at that time of arrest, but he was not a simple sheltered boy fresh out of his village. He had left school at the age of 14, and played football for a living in Nigeria and in Senegal. After returning home from Senegal, he was confident enough to go abroad again, and decided that he would not go back to Senegal, but would seek better prospects in Dubai instead. He was able to fend for himself when he was stranded in Pakistan and unable to travel on to Dubai. He was rich in life experiences for someone of 18 years.


SO: Why did SOCI, YAWNING BREAD, M RAVI, GAYLE GOH suppress these facts when they were urging the Singapore blogosphere to rise up against the "unfair treatment" of this "innocent man"?

Why did they not mention that Tochi:

ATTEMTPED TO EVADE capture at the Transit lounge

CHANGED HIS STORY twice about what was in the sweet wrappers? Why was he convinced it was chocolates? And why did he suddenly admit that they were actually African herbs?

LIED THREE TIMES UNDER POLICE TESTIMONY

FIRST STATEMENT: CLAIMED THE POLICE SLIPPED THE DRUGS INTO HIS BAG

SECOND STATEMENT: CLAIMED HE DIDN'T KNOW MARSHAL BY FACE

THIRD STATEMENT: FIRST MENTION OF A FOOTBALL TRIAL! But can you get help from the football federation AND conduct trial in just ONE DAY! CLAIMED THAT MARSHAL IS A SICK MAN IN SINGAPORE

FOURTH STATEMENT: ADMITTED SMITH GAVE HIM A PHOTOGRAPH OF MARSHAL. ADMITTED HE KNEW MARSHAL WAS IN TRANSIT TO SINGAPORE, AND NOT SICK AS CLAIMED

WHY DID TOCHI FIRST ADMIT HE WOULD BE PAID $2000 THEN LATER INSIST HE DIDN'T KNOW HOW MUCH HE WOULD BE PAID? What was so important about $2000 that it was too sensitive for him to admit?

So many lies, so much suppression of the facts! You should be ashamed of yourself!

soci said...

anonymous,

you seem to be assuming that I had access to the court proceedings and findings before the case began. Can I assume that the above information that was released after they hand hanged them. Or was it freely available in the Singapore national press before the death sentence was carried out?

A. ignorant of the facts of the case - Yes I was ignorant of the factrs in the run up to the case, who wasn't?
B. deliberately suppressing the facts of the case, I was only made aware that he was to be hanged when the letter was emailed to me, it is the Sg media that suppressed the case at the bequest of the courts, I would imagine
C. working with party or parties unknown to paint a sentimentalised picture of an innocent boy, a victim of judicial procedure, I work for no one but myself and I have made it plain to see that I am ANTI-death penalty, full stop. when
D. available evidence clearly points towards Tochi evidence available to whom, the lawyers and prosecution involved, I am not privy to such proceedings and to be so would be to jeopardise the proceedings

Anonymous said...

Whee, so you admit you're ignorant of the "factrs" in the run up to the case. Yet you were so confident of your facts that you badgered several bloggers and blog aggregators, didn't you?

Who emailed the letter to you? Which clown deliberately withheld the full facts of the case? We want his name!

soci said...

http://www.singaporeangle.com/2007/01/some_information_on_the_tochi.html

I have only now come across the court proceedings that took place in 2005. As refered to above.

Suppression of the 'facts' in a case taking place in the Singapore judiciary. The 'facts' outlined above are surely a matter that is to be questioned during court proceedings. The 'facts' as presented seem to read from the prosecutors case as opposed to the 'facts' as presented by the defence.

As for painting a 'sentimentalised picture of an innocent boy, a victim of judicial procedure', surely all of the above 'facts' whether those presented by the defence or the prosecutor are all IRRELEVANT, because the death penalty is MANDATORY. Whether he knew or didn't know, whether he tried to evade capture or didn't are not to be taken into consideration when the judge's hands are tied by a judiciary that enforces a mandatory life sentence for trafficking that contravenes the UN declaration of human rights.

soci said...

so anon...

did you know that Malachy was also to be hanged on the same day? Can you confirm or deny this statement..."But, a South African, who was also sentenced to death by the Singaporeans along with Amara Tochi over drug related issues had his sentence reversed, following the intervention of President Thabo Mbeki who appealed to the authorities in Singapore to temper justice with mercy."

http://www.vanguardngr.com/articles/2002/cover/january07/28012007/f328012007.html

Anonymous said...

Whether the above facts supplied by the anon is true or not, the fact that Tochi was captured at the age of 19. And he was imprisoned for 2 years and then he was sentenced to death. Why was the court proceeding not carried out until 2 years later when he attained the age of 21???

Even if he was found guilty and he should be sentenced to imprisonment based on the time of his crime committed, that at the age of 19 (still considered a minor) and should not based at the time of court proceedings (when he attained the age of 21). IN LAW, NO MINOR SHOULD BE SENTENCED TO DEATH!!!

So, based on this FACT, Sg is all out to KILL people,ok.......

Flynn said...

"Sg is all out to KILL people,ok"

Lee Hsien Loong: a modern Dictator?
www.vizitsingapore.com

Anonymous said...

How about the doctor from Malaysia who was caught smuggling the banned drug substitute to Singapore ?

He is also destroying innocent people's lives for his perverted sense of making money out of other people's misery.

Isn't he also guilty of destroying lives, too ?