Darshan Singh, Singapore's former hangman who had been sacked recently because his name was revealed to the press by one of his friends, has now felt free to comment on Nguyen’s situation. But his statements have infuriated Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer because Downer claimed that Singh was giving cruel false hope to Nguyen’s mum.
The Aussie government doesn't want the Nguyen case relit with spurious hope, because it dreads being cornered into a diplomatic predicament where it may be forced to lock horns with an ally and good trading partner over a drug trafficker. The Aussie government has rejected all legal advice that it had publicly solicited from law professors.
What Singh said to annoy Downer was that there may be just a chance, albeit a very slim one, the Singapore Government may grant Nguyen an 11th-hour reprieve from the gallows, and instead reduce his sentence to life.
I personally reckon there may be just a chance Singh has read too many American fiction, because unfortunately, the sad truth is that it won't happen.
Even Downer has made a request to Singapore, not about pardoning Nguyen, but to let Nguyen's mum give his son a final farewell hug. The current Singapore policy does not permit physical contact between condemned prisoner and family members. But the 'hug' request is a signal that the Aussie government has closed off all avenues to fight anymore for Nguyen's life.
Additionally it has been reported that Singh related some gruesome stories to a Reuters reporter, who quoted him saying "With me, they don't struggle. I know the real way. If it's a raw guy [hangman], they will struggle like chickens, like fish out of the water."
Singh, already 74 years old, has hanged more than 800 prisoners over 45 years, and assured everyone that Nguyen won’t suffer from the hanging if the hangman is skilled.
That sent Downer up the wall, as such news are likely to revolt more Australians into piling more political pressure on the Australian government to take up the execution issue with the Singaporeans again, and that's something he doesn't want as a Foreign Minister.
I read a book on the Nuremberg trial where those Nazis sentenced to the gallows died rather terrible deaths because the hangmen were just ordinary soldiers who didn’t have the skills to ensure swift and guaranteed deaths.
Then the plot thickens as Singh's sacking has now been denied by the Singapore Prison Department. The reporter claimed that borrowing a hangman from Malaysia would mean a serious loss of face for the Island nation. It seems a Singapore official has paid a 'quiet' visit to Singh, to tell him to shut up.
In an earlier report, Singh was quoted as saying he would miss the $400 he could have received for Nguyen's hanging, had he not been sacked, making him sound awefully like an old fashioned bounty hunter.
What I suspect is that Singh had indeed been sacked when his identity was revealed, and there was a loan of a hangman from Malaysia, but the reporter had exploited the 'retired' executioner for the macabre and the gruesome to whip up a horrifying story. Well, it does seem to have the desired effect because the news has put the political squeeze on Canberra, which must have made some frantic phone calls to the Singapore authority to re-employ him, perhaps just for this coming and highly sensitive execution on Friday dawn.
Under enormous pressure from its own public because of the unmitigated horror of a cold blooded execution, the Australian government probably wants Singh to be the one to hang Nguyen so that Australians could be consoled - if such a word could ever be used in this context - that the 'best' hangman in town will attend to Aussie Nguyen.
I am speculating of course but all the conflicting reports thus far could only lend themselves coherently to a scenario such as mine.
The reporter aslo mentioned that Singh believes in rebirth, and mentioning that Nguyen and others he had executed could be reborn as better people.
Well, in that case, Om Mani Padme Hum (Hail the jewel in the lotus) for Nguyen Tuong Van.
(1) Singapore Hangman Sacked!!!
(2) The Singapore Hangman