Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Shanmugam Murugesu.

The Singapore Kindness Movement was launched in 1997 in response to the Prime Minister's call to make Singapore a kinder, gentler society.
- Speech by Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts at SKM Seminar, 26 January 2002, Raffles the Plaza Hotel Ballroom

Yes the law is equal to both rich and poor. They may both NOT sleep under bridges, beg for money on the streets or steal bread to feed hunger. Oh! Indeed how equal is the law to all, how impartial it is.
- comment by Vox Leo, in blog entry
A Matter Of Choice.

They will hang him.

Nevermind the heartwrenching appeal letters being distributed by his children on Orchard Road. Nevermind his mother going on camera to appeal for her son's life. Nevermind Amnesty International getting into the act, if they have not done so already.

They will hang him, you know. Hang him till he is dead.


Let us look at what we understand about Singapore.

* There has not been a case of a presidential pardon for a convicted drug trafficker in the history of Singapore. At least not that I am aware of. There is no economic or political benefit to changing that precedent.

* Singapore maintains a strong position against drug trafficking through the national borders. To offer a pardon would dilute the message that Singapore has spent a lot of time, effort and costs putting out to the world.

* Singapore has a renowned reputation of a harsh judicial system when it comes to serious crimes. A pardon would endanger the reputation of Singapore as a 'safe' city to attract international investments and foreign talents.

* There is no political leverage amongst the local voting population to be obtained by pushing for a presidential pardon on a convicted drug trafficker.

* Singapore has racial tolerance and political apathy. Most non-Indian members of the citizenry are unlikely to get in a frenzy over this issue. For more proof, see blog entry by an elite PSC scholar dated 10 April 2005.

* The convicted felon is neither a significant political nor economic figure. There is no risk of political nor economic repercussions in hanging him.

* The Singapore judiciary has been publicly criticised by organisations such as Amnesty International (and other gadflies) over the death sentence. To offer a visibly public pardon over such a media-highlighted issue would be seen as 'backing down' and resulting in the loss of 'face' for established Singapore system.

* Non-elite serfs are interchangable economic units. The loss or fate of any specific individual does not risk the smooth functioning of the economic whole. There is no reason to risk the law-and-order and threaten a smoothly functioning country in the name of nebulous concepts such as 'mercy'.


Before anybody starts flaming me for this post, let me just say this.

I seek to understand things as they are, not as they should be.

There is of course a possiblity that the Singapore President who has publicly announced intentions to retire this year, may be able to offer a pardon in this case - and yet avoid the political costs. However a rational analysis of the risks involved in changing the established precedent of hanging convicted drug traffickers would not outweigh the political benefits of showing mercy.

I very much hope that I am wrong. But I fear I am not.

rationality has no stand on the existence of family, nor of love, nor of altruism or friendship, yet what is life without any, or even all, of these?
- from AcidFlask blog entry "
sole parent and filial son on death row"


Anonymous nilsinelabore said...

That PSC scholar reminds me of a real-life Loui Chin Ooh Lui.

I wonder how such people managed to get through the interviews.

Have you read his Apr 21, 2004 entry yet?

April 13, 2005 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may want to check out Gary Becker and Posner's views on legalizing marijuana in their blog.

Kelvin Tan

April 13, 2005 11:03 PM  
Blogger ahmad said...

Imagine that same whining PSC scholar 20-25 years on...perhaps MP of your constituency? That's our bright future you're looking at now.

April 14, 2005 12:27 AM  
Blogger the virgin undergrad said...

from what can remember, there exists only one precedent of a presidential pardon for a drug trafficker. i think it was a single mother with 2 really young children. her plea seems to hinge more on the fact that she was manipulated by her partner (who was hung for drugs) than the fact that she was absolved of guilt. if i remember correctly, it shld be wee kim wee who pardoned her.

April 14, 2005 1:02 AM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...


Thank you for the correction.


Like I mentioned, I have no desire to debate what should or should not be the law here.

Thank you for the Becker-Posner blog discussions for legalising drugs - it is a good read. But I suspect Singapore may not quite be ready for a such a progressive position. Especially since our own War on Drugs has been extremely successful over the last two decades.

Singapore has a very effective way of solving the drug problem by removing the criminals. No criminals, ergo, no problem.

nilsinelaboure, ahmad:

Be nice to him. By virtue of his PSC scholarship and his educational pedigree, he will most likely end up in the Administrative Branch of the Singapore Civil Service. Or at least on the SuperScale grade of some important government agency. Or as ahmad says, he may be your next MP.

Brilliant folks such as himself will be responsible for the future national policies and strategies, which would affect almost every aspect of the lives of us serfs.

Besides, our Asian Values require us to show respect to our intellectual (academic) superiors and we should totally support our future rulers.

April 14, 2005 3:16 AM  
Anonymous nilsinelabore said...

As I said to someone else on my blog, he reminded me of a MP who said in Parliament (I think) about Little India being too dark in daylight because of the people there.

A google search on his name reveals that he is in an "elite" MMSS program at Northwestern.
But this guy lacks EQ I think.

April 14, 2005 3:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if this "scholar" can be held accountable for his blog post at all?

April 14, 2005 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my, this is an example of someone who will join the elite ranks of the SG Civil Service? I wonder in future will our multi-racial culture still hold.. Something to the effect of a mini-holocaust would be disastrous for us.. He's proud and conceited and finds that getting As for exams is no big deal? I have nothing to say.. Also, such lack of commitment and 'slackness' only spells doom..

April 14, 2005 1:54 PM  
Blogger Tym said...

Oh god. The PSC scholar in question is from my alma mater. I have never so wanted to hide my face in shame before.

Btw, how do you know he's a scholar? I've browsed randomly through his archives (though I feel that I'm tainting myself) and I haven't yet come across a post that indicates his 'pedigree'.

The idea of being a tattletale repulses me, but Anonymous has a point and the scholar's views repulse me even more. So should these inflammatory and utterly myopic views be brought to the attention of people who might be paying his bills or employing him? He's involved in the Exco of the university's Community Development Corps (a community service organisation), for goodness's sake, yet confesses to racist views?! I'm utterly appalled...

April 14, 2005 10:32 PM  
Anonymous nilsinelabore said...

Tym, read his Apr 21 2004 entry again.

April 14, 2005 11:32 PM  
Blogger Beach-yi said...

Interesting to read most of the comments are directed at the supposedly elite to be PSC or non PSC scholar who had a misguided comment on his blog. How unfortunate but it cannot be helped.

And on the other hand we have the pack of economic rats tsking at him, thousands of miles away, while an unfortunate member of our society who made an unfortunate decision, and whose life is diminishing every minute we make moralising comments. Sure, there are the many other hundreds of similar cases who had a sad story, but unlike him they do not face the death sanctioned at the hands of the State. Unlike him, they do not stare at the shadows wondering where death lurks but knowing when it come claim him.

How increasingly technocratic we have become, what alienation have afflicted us, how ruthless the machinery of the state continues to grind and masticate the spirit and compassion of so many.

Hapless, lonely is surely the man. And yet no neighbour offers the company to walk till the valley of death.

p.s: sorry Knight of Pentacles, just can't help but rant it out. Delete this if you want.

April 15, 2005 5:40 PM  
Blogger Singapore Calamari said...

Haha.. The offending blog is closed today by the author. Click home from KOP's link.

April 15, 2005 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has the PSC scholar changed his URL?

April 17, 2005 6:31 AM  
Anonymous nilsinelabore said...

KoP, someone at SPUG mentioned that this guy is mentioned in the Sunday Times. Do you mind posting a summary of that up?


April 17, 2005 8:44 AM  
Anonymous nilsinelabore said...

Singapore Angle has posted the full text of the SPH article on his blog.

April 17, 2005 9:31 AM  
Blogger Huichieh said...

Trackback: From a Singapore Angle, "Anatomy of a blogospheric event"

...What have we learned? What ought we have done better? What does it portent for the Singapore Blogosphere? While chewing on these questions, I made a list of all the bloggers who posted on the event...

April 18, 2005 11:16 AM  
Blogger Huichieh said...

PSC has officially reprimanded the scholar.

April 26, 2005 7:15 AM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

Yes the law is equal to both rich and poor. They may both NOT sleep under bridges, beg for money on the streets or steal bread to feed hunger. Oh! Indeed how equal is the law to all, how impartial it is.

A kind reader has just emailed to inform me the source attribution of the quote.

The actual quote is by the novelist Anatole France in Le Lys Rouge [The Red Lily], 1894:

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

April 26, 2005 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been interested in a while in forming some sort of group to discuss issues relating to our use of the death penalty. Having talked to friends in law enforcement, the prisons service and the legal profession (with the bright idea of starting with those in a position to have real knowledge) I was seriously horrified by the astounding support those individuals showed for the DP. I would like to know if the general S'porean public really mirrors those same hardline attitudes and what really informs their attitude.

Is anyone interested?

FYI, my own thoughts on the DP are rather nuanced and still evolving but I tend to think that the DP should be a very, very last resort for truly heinous crimes where conviction is based on the very highest standards of evidence.Yeah I know I sound like I stayed out in the sun too much. But surely I am not the only one discomfited by living in 'disneyland with the death penalty'? No?

April 30, 2005 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Mira said...

those are interested in discussing the DP further may contact me :

April 30, 2005 3:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home