We need to be aware that Dr Chee is of course the Singapore opposition leader, therefore his views won’t be entirely favourable to the Singapore PM and his cabinet. But that doesn’t mean we can’t listen and assess how substantial have been his opinions and comments. Afterall, we won’t get unbiased news from the Singapore ruling PAP either.
Firstly, Dr Chee asserted what I have had alluded to before in my postings on the Nguyen Van Tuong’s case. Singapore is stubbornly holding fast to a doctrine that no longer applies for a 1st World nation, especially today. Dr Chee said the cold-blooded insistence on executing Nguyen is based on Singapore’s policy of showing the world that it could and would ‘act tough’. That’s all.
That was why Sydney Cardinal George Pell described the draconian sentence as *disproportionate*, a humongous overkill. It certainly is *disproportionate* – even the US state of Texas, notorious for its many state executions, don’t send people to the gallows for possession or trafficking in drugs.
The ‘act tough’ attitude might have served a 'newly born' Singapore in the past, to promote national resilience, assertion of national sovereignty and a picture to outsiders that they ‘don’t f**k around with Singapore’.
That was how Singapore, some years back, insensitively thumbed its nose at its ASEAN Muslim neighbours when it deliberately hosted an official visit from the President of Israel, while Catholic Philippines backed away and cancelled the visit by the same Israeli persona non grata.
Michael Hill, writing in the Asian Studies Institute, had this to say:
The Singapore government's response, articulated by Malay members of the PAP, was to view with grave concern interference by foreign (Malaysian) politicians in Singapore's internal affairs. Both the assiduous encouragement of the reporting of foreign comment, as in the visit of the Israeli resident, and the outraged dismissal of it, as in the SAF controversy and in various alleged incursions of the United States into Singapore's internal politics, have the function of securing the legitimacy of the state; on the one hand by highlighting the external threat and on the other by emphasising the government's ability to act independently.
At all events, this latter aspect was re-emphasised in a further statement by Lee Hsien Loong in which he recounted the history of ethnic distribution in the Singapore Armed Forces, argued that despite intensive efforts at nation-building Singapore society still was not fully integrated, as evidenced by reaction to the Israeli President's visit, and concluded: "This is a Singapore problem. We will solve it ourselves. Only Singaporeans can determine our own future and destiny".
My underlining and bold-ing
OK, that had been the ideological framework of a rising Singapore nation in the ‘60’s, which served them well. Today, Singapore is officially established as a 1st World nation. Unfortunately Singapore chooses to still retain that same old archaic ‘caveman’ formula when in reality that doctrine has outlived its usefulness and may be counterproductive to its 1st World international image. In fact there are now international questions as to its 1st World credentials if it fails in the morality and humanity departments.
Be that as it may – it’s still Singapore’s right and sovereign decision.
But Dr Chee said that Sinagpore's ‘tough’ act collapses like a house of hypocritical cards when we compare Singapore’s stubborn intention to execute a nobody like Nguyen, while it has a booming trade with Burma, one of the world's biggest producers of opium. Isn’t that just sickening?
What can Singapore say to this double standards of the worst kind - killing a man for drug trafficking, while dealing with and profiting from the association with a larger drug trafficker?
Dr Chee also mentioned that ‘mules’ like Nguyen have sometimes been used as sacrificial diversionary bait. The drug syndicate would provide the mules with small quantities of drugs, report their itinerary to the authorities to have that mule arrested, and while the anti-drug force was focused on the mule, larger quantities of drugs would be slipped through elsewhere undetected.
This trafficking tactic has really blown out of the water some people’s arguments that capital punishment is a deterrent against drug trafficking. All it does mean is that those who are caught would be executed but god knows how many more have slipped through? And according to Dr Chee, those caught and executed could well be those sacrificial mules.
But the most damning revelation is Singapore's hypocritical dealings with the repressive and criminal Burmese regime.