a snail step forward
by Zhou (Chew) Hong Jie
The People’s Action Party (PAP) snails toward a less primitive and barbarous Singapore as it trumpets its intentions to allow its state-sanctioned grim reaper to ease his burgundied noose a wee bit for certain murder and drug-trafficking cases. In their place will be life imprisonment and first century Romanesque cheek-scourging.
My beloved country is infamous the world over for murdering any unfortunate human being who happens to possess certain thumbelina amounts of psycho-spiritual life-enhancing stimulants. Especially so if the individual is No Name Joe from No Name Street. My beloved country will want the world to believe her justice system is yahwist, all-good and all-just, but betrays herself when she loves butchering any individual or group who publicly criticises her law courts. Think of Alan Shadrake. Think of his book. I dislike hackneyed prose, but there is nothing clearer than to suggest that there is “no smoke without fire”.
Criminalising Shadrake only invites suspicion. And suggests insecurity and guilt of some sort. Otherwise a civilised and rational critique of Shadrake’s book will suffice. Wrong move PAP – the country’s internet-savvvy and knowledge-able young citizens are already aroused by all the media brouhaha concerning Shadrake’s case and to criminalise him PAP is simply creating more awareness about his cause.
Although the morbid noose is here to stay, it is gospel – “good news” – to know that Singapore decides to be lenient towards those medicine salesmen who are only couriers and are not involved in any part of the distribution process. It helps that the person(s) cooperates with the authorities to nab his or her criminal superiors or is not mentally sound enough to comprehend the seriousness of the crime.
The mandatory noose will also be scissored away for certain murder cases – but as always – discretion is in the hands of the Attorney-General Chambers.
While many humanists applaud this change, there are still premodern Singaporeans who disapprove of it. According to Yahoo News, one bloke by the name of Louis Loh claimed that:
“Once we open the gate for loosening capital punishment, Singapore will be a more dangerous place to live in.”
This notion of the death penalty being an effective deterrent is fallacious on a few counts. First, the deterrent effect is lost on murders resulting from spontaneous passion or momentary bursts of rage. Rage knows no reason. Second, for an individual who has already committed himself or herself to cross the line of decent human solidarity and murder a fellow human being, the death penalty is chicken droppings. Third, persons suffering from a psychopathic bloodlust to kill (e.g. serial killers) will kill no matter what. They kill because they have to, want to, lust to. The death penalty is peanuts for them. Fourth, many in the medicine trafficking business do so out of desperation. And desperation, like rage, knows no reason.
Besides, to assert that the death penalty is an effective deterrent is to claim that countries or states which apply this law must have very low crime rates. But that is a fairy story.
Death penalty countries like religious USA have the highest crime rates. So does the fanatical Middle East who butcher even innocent people for their sexual tastes and sartorial appetites.
On the contrary, scandinavian nations that are civilised enough to have abolished the death penalty a long time ago have very low crime rates.
Anyhow, on the issue of ethics – I take the very anti-utilitarian approach. If taking the life of a human being is wrong, it is WRONG, period. It does not matter if the killer is the state or another human being. It does not matter if the killer is a deranged serial killer or a plain Jane who accidentally killed her lover out of rage.
Who are we to lower ourselves to the same level as Adrian Lim or Ted Bundy to cry for vengeance? Yes, if I have lost a child to senseless violence, it will be instinctive for me to crave revenge. But I know that I would be no less guilty before my conscience if I cower to that level. And I should trust the law to be just and humane to do the right thing to ensure that the murderer would not cause harm again by incarcerating and rehabilitating him or her.
Citizens’ taxed money or not, the criminal’s human life is also precious.
Sigh. It is ironic that the very people who oppose the killing of non-sentient pre-human organisms in the human uterus often support the killing of very sentient adult criminals. Sometimes on the basis of primitive ancient texts.