Friday, December 02, 2005


Before we left to come here, my brother texted me to tell me to lay low since Van Nguyen would be executed while we were in Melbourne. I have Aussie friends and we had lunch with them yesterday. Inadvertently, the topic of Nguyen came up. We were evasive because the truth of the matter was we didn't really think the Singapore government should have granted clemency to the drug trafficker.

Anyway, today's the day and the whole city is in uproar. The law courts held a minute's silence for the convicted criminal. A QC even compared the current Singapore government and the atrocity of Nguyen's death to the atrocities that occurred in Changi Prison during World War II under the Japanese. Seriously.

It's all over the news. Apparently thousands stood in vigil, all over, including the Singapore High Commission in Canberra. Many cried because another country had hanged a drug trafficker who had enough heroin to kill a whole lot of other people.


Singapore has not only been accussed of a human rights violation, hanging Nguyen, it's been accused of being cold and unfeeling because the authorities did not let Nguyen's mother hug him before he was led to the gallows. Apparently, they were only allowed to hold hands at some point.


I'm not sure what I make of it. There was an interview with a guy who lost his son to a heroin overdose. Apparently, he doesn't think Nguyen should have been hanged either because he could have been rehabilitated. Dude, how do you rehabilitate a drug trafficker?

Anyway, I recall what K once said about how some Singaporean diplomats behaved overseas. In Singapore, being more educated and having been exposed to the world, they are the harshest critics of the system. But stick them in the foreign land, and they become conservative, defending Singapore and perpeutating the very values they might have vociferously opposed previously.

At lunch yesterday, the discussion of the death penalty led to the discussion of capital punishment and how we actually also cane people in Singapore. Of course, that was met with stunned and thinly veiled outrage that we didn't think much about it. Later on in the same conversation, one of my Aussie friends talked about how his ten year old had played hooky and skipped out of school to go to the movies. And her punishment was the rescinding of television privilleges for a month. At that point, I thought about what would have been the consequence if our parents discovered us skipping school at ten years old. There would be the cane and the inability to sit after that, I suspect. And perhaps, the lowered probability of the same thing occuring again. Maybe that's what the girl needed.

But then again, how would I know? I come from a draconian society where we fine, we cane and we hang.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:40

1 thoughts...

1 thoughts...

At 8:21 pm Blogger Beach-yi said...

Maybe, just maybe you should think a little more about the value of life. The heroin trafficker was caught, therefore, no chance in hell are the goods ever going to be spread around.

And heorin kills only if the addict overdoses on it, the trafficker, well he or she is just another person trying to work out in life. Not much different from the ministers who approves of the casinoes anyway.


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