24 December 2006

Abolishing death penalty: understanding the challenges

It's an uphill task educating the public about the death penalty, particularly in Singapore where judicial executions lack transparency, writes Charles Tan. Guest essay.


Anonymous said...

I agree with YB, the death penalty should never be carried out on any person if there's any doubt on the case relevant to the sentence.

In the Huang Na case, there is a strong doubt indeed. While there's no doubt that the guy caused the death of the little girl, the state had never tried to present any evidence of a motive or premeditation. Worse, there is even a possibility that the girl died of choking through something ingested and not strangulation. If there's any proof of doubt, what can be stronger proof than a senior judge casting a not guilty verdict!

Regarding the drugs cases, my doubts are on the fluidity of man-made laws. Just as our laws on sexuality are primitive and may change to align with those of other countries in the future, our laws on drugs may also change to align with those of other countries. We must never take a person's life if these doubts exist.

Most unfortunately, there are those who go too far and argue that the death penalty is wrong for all circumstances. Even YB hints at taking this predilection. In my view this moral absolutism is too rigid and does not hold up if we start to consider other related moral issues such as Living Will (termination of artificial life support), assisted suicide, euthanasia and the like. So I have no problems with the death penalty for someone clearly guilty of mass murder and admits to it. Proponents who are against all cases of the death penalty are not doing us any good, it simply blurs the issue and weakens the cause.

Robert L

Pandemonium said...

Greetings Charles!

I would just like to point out that I recall a survey (actually I think it's more of a straw poll) by The Straits Times several months back (I can't recall the exact date... probably somewhere in the start of the year) that showed most Singaporeans support capital punishment for drug trafficking. I remember vaguely that the number was over 80%.

I'm sorry I cannot provide additional details with regards to this poll. But I was pretty certain it existed since I remember at that time I was rather shocked by the high numbers.

Matilah_Singapura said...


Abolishing the death penalty is a totally BAD idea.

One never knows about the future: the people might just need the death penalty to execute some State Officials for treason and/or crimes against humanity.