Saturday, November 26, 2005

Nguyen Saga - Imperatives of Cold International Politics

As I alluded to in my previous posting on the Nguyen saga, Nguyen's Execution - Oz Govt in Damage Control, the Aussie government, under enormous pressure from the Aussie public but at the same time not wanting to jeopardise international political and trade relationships with Singapore, has made a big show about consulting international law experts including university law professors to examine any possibility of saving Nguyen Van Tuong from his execution this coming Friday..

Well, two Sydney University international law experts, Don Rothwell and Chris Ward, maintained there was time to seek an injunction from the court to halt the hanging of Nguyen.

Professor Rothwell and Dr Ward advised the Aussie government that the first thing to do is to have that international court injunction so that there may be sufficient time to prepare the case to take the Singapore government to the International Court, challenging that its mandatory death penalty has breached a 1961 convention. Both proferssors averred that the Single Convention on Narcotics does not support mandatory sentencing and has an article providing for the court to settle disputes between parties to it.

Wunderbar, perhaps Nguyen may still be saved afterall. But guess what?

The Aussie government, its decision not entirely unexpected, has rejected that recommendation despite its much publicised enlisting of the university dons’ help and agreeing to do everything it could to save Nguyen. The “everything it could” obviously doesn’t include offending the Singapore government, who coincidentally yesterday praised the Aussie government for adopting a mature political approch to the Nguyen’s case.

Juts to make sure it justifies its rejection of Australia’s international law professor with eqaully powerful law credentials, it cabled an overseas expert (since all Aussie experts are likely to support Professor Rothwell and Dr Ward), a Cambridge university professor of international law, Professor James Crawford, for help to support its refusal to take the case to the international courts. According to the Aussie, Professor Crawford gave the nod to the Aussie government's decision.

The Aussie Judicial Conference, an organization representing 550 Australian judges said in great diappointment to the Aussie government’s decision, that the Singapore Court of Appeal had relied on a 1981 Privy Council decision to reject a challenge to the validity of the mandatory death penalty in Nguyen's case, but it noted that last year the Privy Council has changed its position, in declaring as unconstitutional such a mandatory penalty in Jamaica. In other words, the Singapore Court of Appeal might have erred in relying on a superceded precedence.

In the end, Nguyen Van Tuong will surely hang on dawn 02 December 2005, because in this real cold cruel world of international interests, there is no room for the life of a mere drug trafficker. Compassion, humanity and value for the sanctity of a human life must instead give way.


  1. And of course, who has compassion and value for the lives of drug addicts who depend on despicable people like Nguyen for their supply?!

  2. Anonymous (who writes above) is totally bewildered and confused. Drug addicts might need to be protected from themselves as "an act of love", but the "tough love" of sending someone to the gallows is ... simply repugnant! From now on, let's not call abusing others "love" at all. The proper name for the sort of self-righteousness he exhibits is "barbaric".

  3. If you're interested, send an email to the PM about this or just write to him and ask him not to play cricket on the day of the execution, Friday this week.
    For the info, see my blog -