Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hypocrisy of Singapore in Nguyen's Execution

Singapore's leading opposition figure, Dr Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party, in a television interview with renown journalist/presenter Helen Vatsikopaulos on ABC’s programme Asia-Pacific Focus, gave the low-down on the Singapore’s hypocrisy in the Nguyen Van Tuong’s affair.

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.


  1. Let's hope that CSJ would get elected the next round and being so "articulate" as he seems to be, perhaps, could become the Prime Minister of Singapore one day so that all the good things that he has espoused would be turned into reality.

    But as long as he is continously and overwhelmingly rejected by his electorate, that would only show that he is & has been espousing hot air.

  2. Or, like their Malaysian cousins, they keep voting in the same draconian government because of personal kiasu mentality?

  3. or, like their Malaysian cousins, they keep voting in the same draconian government because the government controls the media.

    it'a amazing what you can make people believe when there's no other side to the story (cf. North Korea)

  4. Executing a "nobody" just makes the Singaporean authorities look weak -- the same a typical bully-boys do.

  5. The Australian hysteria over the hanging does more than the ruling party could ever do to ensure its grip on power tightens.

    Well done Australia! You did a good job gelling the Singapore people (Mostly Pro Death for Drug Smugglers) around the Ruling Party this time.

  6. In fact the Aussie outrage over the Singapore cold blooded and cold hearted killing via a state legislation that allowed no judicial discretion, in other words a politically decided execution, has flushed normally kiasu Sinporeans out of the bushes to lodge their revulsion at the inhumane hanging.

    A Singapore Chinese nun has braved the wrath of the intolerant Singapore government to voice her concerns, an artistic director has publicly revealed Big Brother imposing USSR-styled censorship on his play about a State-executed man Shanmugum Murugesu, and even the pro-government Straits Times newspaper had for the first time was embarrassed into publishing several pages that informed on and discussed the execution.

    Some Singaporeans have formed a Committee to oppose the death penalty. These are very courageous actions in a state where the government has regularly used all means to crush any opposition, even to the point of bankrupting them.