The horror of Nguyen Van Tuong’s pending execution has struck home in Australia truly well and good. Public anger has erupted against Singapore’s cruelty in proceeding with his execution, scheduled for the dawn of 02 December 2005.
That has been why PM John Howard made a last minute appeal to his Singapore counterpart despite an earlier refusal to do so. That’s why Howard continues to grumble in public on why he hasn’t been satisfied with Singapore’s failure to inform him of the execution date, already determined prior to his appeal to PM Lee. Howard is the consummate politician who knows he must ‘fall into line’ with Aussie public feelings, and be seen to be doing so.
Was Nguyen guilty of drug trafficking? Yes. Then what’s the issue?
Sydney Catholic Archbishop, and the principal Catholic primate of Australia, Cardinal Goerge Pell summarised it best. He said of the execution:
"I deplore the decision of the Singapore Government to proceed with this execution. Illegal drugs are a scourge, but the punishment in Van's case is completely disproportionate to the crime he has committed."
The punishment is totally *disproportionate*, and reflects the Singapore government's stubbornness in holding fast to a national doctrine against drug trafficking that has proven to be ineffectual. Singapore has already executed hundreds of drug traffickers, of small and large quantities of the illegal substance, yet those traffickers have not stop coming. Yes, they should be arrested but the solution lies not in hanging them.
In fact, if punishment is intended to be punitive, wouldn’t it be more effective by confining the criminal behind bars for long periods to let them reflect on (or ‘stew’ over) the seriousness of the crime?
If the intention of the draconian sentence is to deter other potential drug criminals, as it should be, then wouldn’t it be more terrifying to let those intending to commit the same crime know that years and years of confinement await them, without parole or reduction of the pronounced sentence, that they may never see the outisde of their prison walls for the next 30 or 50 years again?
While some argue the death sentence is a mighty terrifying deterrent, others have argued that criminals, most from desperate backgrounds with little to lose other than their lives, are prepared to take the risk and die if necessary.
Their common desperate attitude seems to be “It will just end my miserable life here anyway”, echoing the Singapore Hangman’s farewell message of “I am going to send you to a better place than this”.
Decades of languishing in restricted confinement, growing old behind in a prisoner’s cell, never ever returning to society again – surely, that’s more terrifying than swift death for would-be drug traffickers.
Economically, politically and administratively, Singapore has worked its way admirably into the ranks of the 1st World nations in just 40 years, yet it is now failing that ranking by its abysmal moral standards with regards to the value of a human life.
2 Weeks of Life Left for Nguyen Van Tuong