Singapore is where crime goes to die. The country is well-known for having strict laws against crime and even stricter punishments for criminal offenders. Caning gets a lot of press, probably because beating people with sticks sounds barbarous.
State-sanctioned killing is also fairly barbaric, and Singapore does it with even more gusto than our own United States. Singapore has a “zero tolerance” policy for drug use, which means drug users in Singapore can be hung by the state.
Now, Singapore’s deputy prime minister says the country will be loosening the rope around drug offenders. But druggies in Singapore shouldn’t get too excited…
Reuters has an article about Singapore’s new proposals:
[T]he government, reflecting changes in “our society’s norms and expectations”, will put forward a draft law by the end of this year to give judges more leeway to deal with certain drug and murder cases, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean told parliament.
“While there is a broad acceptance that we should be tough on drugs and crime, there is also increased expectation that where appropriate, more sentencing discretion should be vested in the courts.”
The proposal is that drug couriers could avoid the death penalty (sorry users) if they meet two requirements: they only acted as couriers, and they were not able to appreciate the gravity of their actions. Here’s how the deputy PM put it:
“We also propose to give the courts the discretion to spare a drug courier from the death penalty if he has a mental disability which substantially impairs his appreciation of the gravity of the act, and instead sentence him to life imprisonment with caning,” Teo said.
Life imprisonment and beatings, for the mentally handicapped who are manipulated into transporting drugs, is progress? Yay, humanity?
(Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise. Singapore, after all, is the country where Li-ann Thio — the law professor who controversially compared gay sex to “shoving a straw up your nose to drink” — served in parliament.)
Despite the proposed changes in sentencing, Teo made clear that capital punishment is not going away.
“In particular, the mandatory death penalty will continue to apply to all those who manufacture or traffic in drugs – the kingpins, producers, distributors, retailers – and also those who fund, organize or abet these activities,” he said.
You know, I don’t think this will make me soften my policy of never going to Singapore.