Nov 17, 2007

A New Record for Singapore?

Singapore could be the world's most vocal advocate for the death penalty.
ST Nov 17, 2007
UN resolution calls for capital punishment to be suspended
Singapore leads the charge against non-binding resolution that polarises members

UNITED NATIONS - A UNITED Nations General Assembly committee has passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with the ultimate goal of abolishing the practice.

The non-binding resolution was given the green light on Thursday after two days of fractious and often bad-tempered debate - with Italy leading the anti-execution camp and Singapore heading the charge for the other side.

The draft proposal was introduced by 87 countries, including 27 European Union (EU) states.

In the end, 99 countries voted for a suspension of capital punishment worldwide, 52 voted against and 33 abstained.

In arguing against the resolution, Singapore said capital punishment is a criminal law issue which should be left to countries to decide.

Singapore's permanent representative to the UN, Mr Vanu Gopala Menon, said ahead of the vote that the EU co-sponsors were trying 'to impose a particular set of beliefs on everyone else'.

'How else can this behaviour be described other than as sanctimonious, hypocritical and intolerant,' he said.
"You are so intolerant!" Mr Menon cries out to 99 countries in the world. "Why won't you let me kill people just the way I please." No doubt Mr Menon would think that I am sanctimonious, hypocritical and intolerant too. After all, I am against the death penalty.

There are so many worthy causes in the world that Singapore could potentially champion. Singapore could, for example, use the United Nations to lobby for more coordinated international action to deal with global warming - this is very relevant for us, since rising sea levels pose a threat especially to small island states.

Instead we go to the United Nations, and we forcefully devote our energies into arguing for our sovereign right to kill people. How shameful - and stupid.

33 comments:

Alan Wong said...

"How else can this behaviour be described other than as sanctimonious, hypocritical and intolerant".

I wonder whether this statement is equally applicable to our PAP leaders.

Anonymous said...

Actually there are many countries with the death penalty but why Singapore want to take the lead against the resolution? No better things to take the lead at the UN? Wonder why our diplomats behave the way they do without obvious benefit. (Anyway UN can't change Singapore or other nation's laws)

geriatric_eunuch said...

ROFLMAO, oh the irony, the irony!

'How else can this behaviour be described other than as sanctimonious, hypocritical and intolerant', he said - tongue-firmly-in-cheek, referring to his employers.

Darn self-righteous Europeans with their human rights this, civil liberties that, due process, habeas corpus, judicial reviews and all that mediocre jazz. No wonder their economies are falling apart, their currency tottering, their citizens rioting in the streets and their women working as maids.

When will those cupid stunts ever learn to adopt proven Red Spot techniques like rum, sodomy and the lash, the generous use of the death penalty and the word 'mandatory'? The simplest ways are often the best. To my friends, everything. To my enemies, the law.

Anonymous said...

hey, those rich ministers have no better thing to do (besides laughing their way to their banks) than to meddle in crappy business,
for example, lately we have PM Lee said not supporting sanctions for Myannmar, and
now this crap about championing anti-death sentence camp in UN. When it's clear that the majority of the world (and logic) dictates otherwise.

When I'm overseas, I don't think I am proud to tell people I am from Singapore. I would rather keep mum about it.

Anonymous said...

It is not the death penalty in itself that is so questionable as the fact that the PAP government takes pride in it, thus becoming the champion of it at the UN.

It even hanged drug traffickers caught at Changi Airport transit hall, who were not intending to smuggle the contraband into Singapore.

I believe PAP is doing all this to show to the world how great it is and not so much because it cares for the welfare of world. Otherwise PAP would not have traded with and be so chummy with Myanmar's leaders nor had supported Bush in attacking Iraq.

PAP is really a soulless organisation that is more interested in self-aggrandisement and power than in promoting humane values.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why so many are against the death penalty. How would you like it if one day, your loved one were killed for no rhyme or reason and all the offender got was lifetime imprisonment? Or counselling?

yh said...

killing for revenge. how civilized.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Mr Wang, since when Singapore become so active and influential on the UN, to the point that it can lead an pro-execution camp of countries? There is so much better things it can do.

Perhaps like the issue of 377A, Singapore might one day adapt with changing world trends, hopefully.

Yuez

geriatric_eunuch said...

Anon, the pros and cons of capital punishment are succinctly summarised here.

As to why so many people are vehemently opposed to the death penalty, Singapore-style, perhaps Yawning Bread's article might give you some cause for concern.

Recall that this particular miscarriage of justice is irreversible.

Anonymous said...

"How would you like it if one day, your loved one were killed for no rhyme or reason and all the offender got was lifetime imprisonment? Or counselling?

And you get your loved one back by killing this person?

Anonymous said...

@ 10:38

You might want to read up on habeas corpus, as well as how the criminal justice system works in general. While capital punishment isn't utterly vile in itself, our courts don't exactly allow for an equitably form of defence, innocent OR guilty.

Anonymous said...

to annonymous at 10.38am,
the death of the person who killed my loved one will not bring him/her back to life. While I would certainly want that person to be punished (prison sentence and a bit of our famous whacking on the bum), no.. death sentence would do little to ease my pain. Besides, death can be a much more easier sentence than spending a lifetime in prison and having to face what you did until you die.

What abt if your loved one was on death row?

Zaihan said...

@ anonymous November 18, 2007 10:38 AM

The furore over the death penalty is not so much about it's worth as a punishment but more because it allows us to take away the lives of others. Think about it; if you send a murderer to the gallows, how different are you from him/her? Why should it be okay to kill those we deem worthy of death, when we would not want that same fate befall us? You speak about only one side of the fence - have you thought about the family and loved ones of the one sentenced to death?

@ Mr Wang
Didn't you read what our very own Prime Minister said about global warming, printed in The Straits Times? Anyway, he said that being such a small country with a small population, whatever we do as a nation would have minimal impact, so it shouldn't be our priorities at the expense of economic development. Yes, he did. You think he cares if we drown when sea levels rise?

Anonymous said...

To Anon on November 18, 2007 10:38 AM

When you say "no rhyme or reason", were your talking about an accident?

If it is an accident, then it would be considered as manslaughter, I don't think that the perpetrator would have the death sentence for that.

But if it wasn't an accident, then we would have to see the reasons why A killed B don't we?

To answer your question, "How would you like it if one day, your loved one were killed for no rhyme or reason and all the offender got was lifetime imprisonment? Or counselling?"

I would feel as sad as the killer's loved ones when he/she is sentenced to death.

Although, I would be very very sad if my loved ones were killed, I am also aware that the death penalty does nothing for my loved ones that has passed on, if I were to support the death sentence, it will only be done to satisfy my own primitive selfish need for revenge.

Thoughts like that tend to create more disharmony in the world and our lives.

Chonghan

family man said...

like the pro - anti 377A camp - I *think* there is a significant percentage of singaporeans who would like to extract 'a pound of flesh' and ask for maintanance of the capital punishment - eg drug traffiking (how to spell), Adrian Tan serial killer cases....

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 10:38

How would you feel if one of your loved ones get sent to the gallows for a murder he/she did not commit?

DNA testing has exonerated many imprisoned wrongly-accused murderers in the US. Why would Singapore's judiciary be more effective in sentencing murderers? Death is irreversible.

Anonymous said...

Wang Says So : 'There are so many worthy causes in the world that Singapore could potentially champion. Singapore could, for example, use the United Nations to lobby for more coordinated international action to deal with global warming ...'

Fully agree. But then Singapore Power run by PAP will lose much revenue: many traditional lightings in public places - HDB corridors and staircases for instance - will have to be swapped with energy-saving bulbs in order to legitimize such a role for PAP in the UN.

PAP chooses what fits its greedy, money-making agenda. The whole establishment is made to churn in money for PAP.

Anonymous said...

How do you like it if it were your LOVED one who is to hang for his or her "foolishness" but repented and NOT given a chance to rehabilitate?
Perhaps it is cheaper to hang than to provide rehabilitative including counseling services for people who made a "BIG" mistake?
Perhaps this "eye for an eye" is really making the world goes blind with vicious cycles of violence.

Anonymous said...

@anon 10:38am

Since you can empathise with the victims and seem to vehemently defend revenge (and ONLY in the case of murder, apparently), how about you place yourself in the shoes of someone stuck in the quagmire we call our criminal justice system, where:

1) Burden of proof is on the accused, who is faces the full resources of the public prosecutor

2) Neglience is tantamount to culpability, when it serves to prove guilt OR propensity to repeat the same offence

3) You’re assuming that counseling is a valid outcome of murder trials, when that is usually not the case. The death penalty also applies to quite a few other crimes, not just murder. It would serve you well to think beyond the confines of homicide. Hell, homicides might not even constitute to a majority of the hanging convictions

The Singapore legal system is far from the august process of litigation we assume it to be. Rather than posture from your armchair and commiserate with only one side of the legal system (plaintiffs), think about defendants as well, who MIGHT be innocent.

I think your poorly worded statements merit no more from this side of the fence.

Anonymous said...

Executing the criminal won't bring back the dead.

Only narrow minds see any value in such an act.

Instead more should be focussed on minimising the causes that lead to undesirable results.

Anonymous said...

The issue of death penalty is that sometimes, the death penalty seems to be carried out lightly without mercy. Mandatory death penalty is an issue since not all drug traffickers are "bad guys" and they do have their own personal problems.

For cold blooded murderers, I think the death penalty should stay. For drug dealers, I think it should stay but the word mandatory should be abolished. People who surrender might be given life withou parole or something.

Instead we go to the United Nations, and we forcefully devote our energies into arguing for our sovereign right to kill people. How shameful - and stupid.


I disagree here. Yes, it can be stupid since there are other causes more worthy of championing esp to the UN but I do not think it is shameful here. Singapore should stand up for what it believes in esp since this resolution in brought up in the UN.

I know our ministers are hypocrites and such but I think we should call a spade a spade and not just lump everything out of the mouths of PAP as hypocritical and the such. Once in a while, something good comes out.

Bottom line, the death penalty should be kept. Reasons for its use might need to go under review. The reason is that there will always be extreme cases where the death penalty might have to be used. The main problem is defining what is extreme or not. Erring on the side of life in grey cases. That is fair but there are always clear cut cases where there is no doubt.

Philip

CountOnMeSg said...

If you read news reports from other TRUST-WORTHY, REPUTABLE news organizations, none of them mentioned Singapore taking the lead in the UN regarding this issue. Perhaps the Singapore ambassador was the first in the opposition camp to speak, and ST thus reported that Singapore was the leader? Another case of "creative journalism" by ST?

Anonymous said...

the proponent of the right to life believes that no one is born particularly evil. usually, the cause of evil in a person is circumstantial and even attributed to hormonal imbalances etc.

now if the law makers are unmerciful, these unfortunate lives shall be shortened and sometimes, too early.

considering that humans are imperfect creatures, and the law makers are no different howbeit 'luckier', such cruel measures may deemed inhumane.

the right to life is a gift. should the gift be revoked in a moment of folly?

we all hope to change for the better. with the right measures of love and care. even a one time crooked lawyer can become a real 'knight' again.

now if perchance arse luck would befall on your loved one and he she becomes an unfortunate victim, it is hope that you respond like a true devotee and find your peace in 'allah's will'.

for life is like a motorist on the road. you try your best to avoid an
accident. but someone may not be that careful and his accident may find you instead.

some say, arse luck then! learn to accept and live with your grieve...in peace.

there are worse challenges ahead. like your 'aging and eventual death' expedited by political changes.

omph.omph.....

Anonymous said...

Kira will judge the criminals and establish a new world!

Anonymous said...

I think the Govt is just consistently acting in its own self(ish) interest. In other words, what happens internally in Sg is Sg's affairs, not even for UN to interfere. Human lives never mattered in the first place when they are treated as digits. That is why we do not push hard when Mynamar says no to the UN envoy addressing the ASEAN Summit.

It's all about self(ish) interest without regard for human lives or principles. A small country that can only act big inside its borders.

Denzuko1 said...

I think they think they are in Singapore because the way they argue is like they are in the Parliament, retort to name calling, baseless accusations, etc.

Robert L said...

This death penalty subject never fails to attract strong response from pro and anti camps. I guess the wisest thing is to seek a middle ground, that means we must all give a little.

There will always be crimes that are so horrifying that many people will want to apply the death penalty. Let's not argue about that.

Instead, I'll suggest that the death penalty should never be applied if there is a chance that the accused is not guilty. Imagine if a DNA test in future proves that the accused is the wrong person, how do we bring him back to life?

In a similar way, imagine if in future we change our laws such that 10 grams of a particular drug is no longer an offense, how do we bring back to life those we have already killed under present laws?

Let us agree halfway on these examples, and severely limit the chances that we have applied the death penalty wrongly.

your loyal reader said...

Death penalty is meant to be a deterrent.

Think about drug trafficking. Do you want your children to be within grasp of drugs?

This is a non-binding resolution. There are 55 countries against suspension. Many abstains.

This is also probably not brought up by Singapore.

So why are we targeting our UN rep?

Global Warming is seriously beyond Singapore's power to influence.

US did not sign Kyoto Treaty. China is becoming one of the world most un-green country.

What is Singapore?

To try to say that Singapore is wasting time championing something unworthy like a Death Penalty is really trying to find bone in an egg.

It's cool to always be anti-Singapore.

But you are enjoying the peace and drug-free environment and is totally a hypocrite to pass those remarks.

You can always migrate to the US. It's not too difficult for you.

Mr Wang Says So said...

1. As far as I'm aware, ALL studies except ONE, on the deterrent effect of the death penalty have shown that it has no more deterrent value than a very long jail term.

2. The ONE exceptional study was carried out using an economist's model - so the methodology makes that key assumption which drives so many economic studies; that the key participant (in our case, the criminal) is homo economicus, a rational man who makes decisions in a rational way for his own self-interest. I do not believe, however, that this assumption is generally valid in the case of criminals (in other words, I believe that many criminals - eg a love-crazed jilted man who kills his ex-lover - are not rational people and they do not make rational decisions).

3. One of the most frightening things about Singapore's laws is that where death has been prescribed as a penalty, thenonce the offence is proven, it leaves no discretion for the judge to mete out ANY other punishment - eg life imprisonment - regardless of any unusual extenuating or mitigating factors in the circumstances of the case.

4. It is increasingly common for the family members of murder victims to be AGAINST the hanging of the murderer, as a matter of principle. Click here for one example.

5. There is growing awareness that imposing the death penalty on a murderer does NOT aid the psychological healing process for the victim's family members at all, it only lengthens the time taken to heal. Excerpt from here:

"Rarely does the death penalty bring “closure” to victims. Usually, it serves only as one more attempt by society to enact vengeance when it feels violated. Many believe the death penalty is needed in order to bring closure to the families of victims. In time, many family members learn to deal with the devastation of homicide through a process of healing. Some advocates of capital punishment impede this process as they promise the family that they will “feel better” after the execution of the perpetrator. So, for years a family member remains a “victim,” waiting for the event that will make her/him feel better. Sometimes the “event” never occurs. When it does, however, there is no evidence of “closure.” Many family members, following an execution, say something akin to: “Why don’t I feel better?” Indeed, the day following the execution of Timothy McVeigh, The Hartford Courant’s front page was plastered with quotes from family members of those killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. The banner headline read: “IT STILL HURTS.”

TheWrathOfGrapes said...

geriatric_eunuch said...
When will those cupid stunts ever learn to adopt ///

This I like. A bit of topic, but since we are in a swearing mood. Reminds me of this:

What's the difference between a circus and a bevy of beauties?

One is an array of cunning stunts...

Anonymous said...

Disagree on this.

believe that many criminals - eg a love-crazed jilted man who kills his ex-lover - are not rational people and they do not make rational decisions).

I think that most are rational, like in the case of premediated murder. As for those in crime of passion kind of things, I think it is a case by case basis whether the person is rational or not. And there are physhiatrists who will take the stand to see if one id rational or not, right? Effective deterrent? Well, that is another issue but different countries think differently in this way. Some people are just so bad that if they are imprisoned, they might even be a threat to other prisoners. Of cos, these are extreme cases but in my opinion, death penalty id for these extreme cases.


This I agree.
3. One of the most frightening things about Singapore's laws is that where death has been prescribed as a penalty, thenonce the offence is proven, it leaves no discretion for the judge to mete out ANY other punishment - eg life imprisonment - regardless of any unusual extenuating or mitigating factors in the circumstances of the case

There should not be MANDATORY DEATH sentences. The judge should be given some lattitude here. If a terrorist surrenders or drug trafficker gives up, well, maybe life imprisonment but not death. Should not be mandatory.

But singapore is relatively drug free and perhaps our harsh laws work? So if we dun do drugs, what do we have to fear of this law? And I dun think most of us will go round murdering right? The only worry is if we have been set up and wrongly accused but then, we must have faith that we can prove our innocence. If we do not have faith in the integrity of the legal system in death penalty cases, I think we better migrate soon.

Philip

Anonymous said...

The death penalty is a proven deterrent and in terms of morality, it brings justice and closure to the family and friends of the victim and to society.

It is not about killing people but rather bringing justice and comfort to society and family and friends of the victim.

To do anything less would be cowardly, sanctimonius and irrationally emotional.

It require guts to do the right thing, and sadly, the leftwing ultra-liberal owner of this blog does not have them.

Edgeforall.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Yup, if the Dalai Lama and the Pope are "ultraliberal" and "leftwing", then that would be me as well. We share similar views on the death penalty.

Or maybe that just makes us sanctimonious, hypocritical and intolerant. Just like 99 other countries in the world.

Philip: You have confused the "rational man" in economics with "insanity" in criminal law. Two different concepts. Also, Singapore is not drug-free - not even close. Drug consumption cases form a very large category of criminal convictions in Singapore - to the extent that we need a separate enforcement agency (CNB)and separate prisons to hold the prisoners (DRCs). In fact, if you take a walk around the Sub Courts on any working day, you'll see quite a few cases going on. It has been this way for years and years.