Standing against the death penalty in Singapore
November 29, 2009, 3:39 am
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign

Voluntary euthanasia is illegal in Singapore and suicide is considered a crime. Yet the government hangs people from voluntary and involuntary drug mules to murderers and kidnappers and more.

Not that I am saying that people who have committed crimes should not be punished. I am just wondering if the death penalty is the only way to punish those who have committed certain crimes.

By hanging a murderer, the government is using violence against violence. How does this solve the problem at all?

By hanging a drug mule, the government is using violence against drug trafficking. Will this destroy the drug mule and trafficking system at all?

Instead of continuing the cycle of violence by using violence against the violators, maybe psychiatric rehabilitation during imprisonment can be used?

Instead of hanging drug mules, why not place them on rehabilitation programmes and give them a chance to repent?

Due to the mandatory death sentence in Singapore, once a person is seen to possess a certain amount of drugs while entering the country, the person is condemn to be sentenced to death. What if this person had no foreknowledge that s/he was carrying drugs into the country?

Take the case of Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi for example. He brought 727.02 grams of heroin with him believing that he was helping to bring African herbs to someone in Singapore as a favour to a particular “Mr. Smith” who lent him a helping hand when he was in need of it back home in Nigeria. During the trial, the judge openly noted that Tochi might not have known that the capsules he was carrying contained heroin. He wrote,

“There was no direct evidence that [Amara Tochi] knew the capsules contained diamorphine. There was nothing to suggest that Smith had told him they contained diamorphine, or that he had found that out of his own.”

Yet despite all of that, Tochi was sentenced to death and was hung at dawn on January 26, 2007.

Similarly in another case of Vignes Mourthi, a Malaysian factory worker who was found to be guilty of trafficking 27.65 grams of heroin into Singapore, CJ Yong Pung How admitted in court that an innocent man can be hanged during an appeal by human rights lawyer M Ravi. You can read the report here.

Besides the obviously flawed and rigid system that we have when it comes to the death penalty, there is also the question of chance giving and rehabilitation.

With the Yellow Ribbon Project that seeks to campaign for the acceptance of ex-offenders, the government is promoting the idea of a ‘second chance’. However here we are executing offenders as young as 21 without giving them any chance to repent. May I boldly declare that we are practicing hypocrisy here?

Yong Vui Kong, a Malaysian boy who is now sitting on the death row awaiting his execution, was 19 when he was arrested as a drug mule 3 years ago. He was told that he won’t get into any trouble by helping his big boss deliver some drugs into Singapore. He naively believed and for that, he is now awaiting death.

A petition was sent to President SR Nathan sometime last month by the Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign asking for clemency for Yong. It was recently rejected by the President himself, the same person who launched the Yellow Ribbon Project.

Now we are talking about a 21 year old boy whose crime was committed out of naivety. I am not dismissing the fact that he did commit a crime and am not condoning that what he did was right. In this very case in particular, the offender is still so young and have already been sitting on the death row for close to 3 years. According to his elder brother, he is now a totally different person due to his experience in prison. He has now become a devout Buddhist and his only wish is to be able to see his mother for just one last time. Unfortunately, his mother is still being kept in the dark about her son’s impending execution because his siblings feared that she might react drastically due to the fact that she is under the state of clinical depression and is a certified schizophrenic. Judging from the account by Yong’s brother about the transformation of Yong, is there no chance that rehabilitation will work? I believe it will but our President who is also a certified social worker, believes otherwise. It is really heartbreaking.

The anti-death penalty campaign in Singapore has been held under much criticisms from the supporters of the death penalty. I think that the supporters of the death penalty have misunderstood our point. I would like to further reinforce that the whole point about the anti-death penalty campaign is that there are many other ways the judiciary can punish those who commit crimes. The death penalty is not the way because it takes away lives and because it leaves no room for rehabilitation and repentance. We are not saying that being a drug mule is right, not saying that any other crimes are right. We are saying that the death penalty is not a solution at all.

With that, I oppose the use of the death penalty in Singapore and anywhere else in the world. I will continue to do so whether in campaigning, in writing or in any other ways possible, for as long as I live.

Read also:

Iwuchukwa Amara Tochi (Wikipedia)

Malaysian executed in Singapore for drug trafficking (on Vignes Mourthi)

Too proud of our noose

Singapore: Executions since December defy global trend

Against the death penalty

End the death penalty for drug related offences

Another teenager caught, set to hang

Singapore: Malaysian man facing execution in Singapore

President rejects clemency petition for Yong Vui Kong

Capital punishment in Singapore (Wikipedia)


15 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I don’t know if you remember the case of the (Vietnamese) Australian Nguyen Tuong Van who was hanged in Singapore in December 2005 despite calls for clemency from the Australian government. The Pope and Queen Elizabeth II also wrote to President Nathan to seek clemency for Nguyen Tuong Van. But all these was to no avail.

Comment by ahtong

Yes I remember Nguyen Tuong. I also remember the German girl who was granted clemency after threats of aggression from Germany. Apparently they reweighed the drugs she was having but I am still looking for that news article. Meanwhile, check this out: http://www.singapore-window.org/sw05/050714re.htm

Double standards?
(No I am not saying that she should be executed.)

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Good series on the Death Penalty. Keep up the great work. Your related articles are linked.

Comment by SZ

Thanks SZ for the encouragement!🙂

Comment by rachelabsinthe

I still beleive there are other ways to punish someone where its a win win situation for both parties.

Comment by jimmy

Indeed and I certainly believe so.

Taking away a life as a form of punishment is itself a violent crime, a contempt towards the life of an individual even though that individual might be the most serious crime doer.

No governments should be allowed to commit such a crime in my opinion and as taxpayers, we should not allow our hands to be full of blood caused indirectly by the government’s execution of criminals and directly by our silence or consent towards such an action by the government.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

[…] We are against capital punishment – TOC: President rejects clemency petition for Yong Vui Kong – Rachel Zeng’s blog: Standing against the death penalty in Singapore […]

Pingback by The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 30 Nov 2009

[…] From Rachel’s blog post, […]

Pingback by Petition for clemency of Yong Vui Kong denied « Jacob 69er

By hanging a murderer, the government is using violence against violence. How does this solve the problem at all?
By hanging a drug mule, the government is using violence against drug trafficking. Will this destroy the drug mule and trafficking system at all?
Instead of continuing the cycle of violence by using violence against the violators, maybe psychiatric rehabilitation during imprisonment can be used?
Instead of hanging drug mules, why not place them on rehabilitation programmes and give them a chance to repent?

okay so, instead of hanging murderers, why not…???

i think the problem is that anti-death activists often protest when a drug mule is going to be hanged, and yet rarely try to garner the same support for convicted murderers. i think anti-death activists need to be clear whether they are against death for ‘minor’ crimes or against death for all.

Comment by quirkyhill

although i think my comment is not very relevant to your post anyway.

Comment by quirkyhill

Sorry for such a late reply.

I think your comment is relevant and thanks for voicing out here.

Personally I am against the death penalty for all crimes. What can be achieved if the State hangs a murderer? Does it stop people from committing the crime? No it does not.

I don’t believe in the practice of “a tooth for a tooth; an eye for an eye.” because it promotes more violence than not. If the death sentence is a deterrent, then why are people in Singapore still committing such a crime?

I am honestly too exhausted from work today to go into details but here is a link for you to check out:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/myths-facts

Hope it helps for now.🙂

Comment by rachelabsinthe

[…] punishment – TOC: President rejects clemency petition for Yong Vui Kong – Rachel Zeng’s blog: Standing against the death penalty in Singapore – Who Moved My Singapore Cheese: Shooting the messengers – Rachel Zeng’s blog: Final court […]

Pingback by The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup: Week 49

Thank you for the insightful blogpost. The Singapore Democrats have featured your post in our blogs of the week section – http://yoursdp.org/index.php/news/blogs-of-the-week

Comment by Singapore Democrats

[…] Rachel’s post here, The anti-death penalty campaign in Singapore has been held under much criticisms from the […]

Pingback by Videos of forum on death penalty in Singapore « Jacob 69er

The association Together Against the Death Penalty has the pleasure to announce to you that the videos of the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty are available on the internet, notably on Youtube.

Presentation video clip of the Congress, part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C06Z8MN2Ivc
The second part : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEyMpGFuK0o

To reach the page of Together Against Death Penalty :
http://www.youtube.com/user/ECPMassociation

Together Against the Death Penalty organized the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty from the 24th to 26th February 2010 at the international conference center in Geneva: intense debate over three days brought together more than 1500 actors of the civil society, lawyers, general public, States representatives, international and local organizations (53 delegations were represented)

In partnership with the World Coalition against the death penalty and the Swiss Confederency we propose that this 4th edition permits a reflection about the combined involvement of the civil society, the States and the Intergovernmental Organizations in favor of the abolition of the death penalty.

Together against death penalty.

Comment by Together against death penalty




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