Call us barbaric if you like


I spend a few hours reading up on Van Tuong Nguyen online. I bypass the local news agency webpage because it is pretty censored. Went straight to Technorati and found hundreds and hundreds of blog writing about him. A new one appears within a few minutes. There is even a wikipedia on him.

I feel like crying after reading those blog. Not because a life was lost, but how everyone reacted to this case. Campaigners held a vigil outside the prison before his execution, church bell in Nguyen’s home city of Melbourne tolled 25 times and a request for an official minute’s silence to honour Nguyen. While fighting for human rights, everyone seems to have forgotten that Nguyen is a drug trafficker, not a national hero.

Many blogs gave hundreds of reasons why Singapore shouldn’t hang Nguyen. But for every reason they give, I could give another reason to rebut.

Call us barbaric if you like, but we have a law to uphold.

Singapore could grant clemency to one Nguyen, but how many more Nguyen do we need to grant clemency? If we grant him clemency, then we will also need to grant clemency to the next foreigner drug trafficker. End of the day, clemency for all drug trafficker. Then what for do we have the law? We might as well abolish the law on drug trafficking since we can’t uphold it.

The law clearly state mandatory death sentences for drug trafficking. Even if the Australian boycott our products or impose trade sanctions on us, we still have to stand firm on our ground. This is our law and our rights to uphold it in our country. If we fail to uphold it, then what peace and order can there be?

I wish the Australian and everyone around the world would respect our law, the same way they want us to respect theirs.


  1. Maybe there should a death penalty for walking against the light in traffic? Maybe for spitting on the sidewalk or littering. Sure would reduce thise offenses. It’s almost like you’re happy he died. What’s next to keep the masses in line? Beheadings? Barbaric? How about just ruthless fearmongering hypocrits. Yes, I’m sure no police or politicians or military are involved in drugs. Grow up. All you did was kill a boy who made a mistake. He didn’t kill anyone – you did. Enjoy your laws. Beware – they may fall on you.

  2. Hey Cranky, wake up.

    The fact was this was a guy who smuggled drugs which have the potential to kill and destroy and yet, he was being made out to be some hero?! Thats not logical. The point now is not whether there should be a death penalty at all but rather a case of not giving prefential treatment to any convicted smuggler, a drug dealer who did what he did out of selfish reasons, someone who belonged to the lowest rungs of the society and yet was made out to be some war hero cos he was take responsible for his actions?!

    I am not for the death penalty, i think its cruel. But if you know the consequences and yet went ahead to commit the act, then its only right that you pay for your actions, regardless of whether its the death penalty or capital punishment. Thats law at its most basic form. Why should Singapore excuse this guy just he said he did what he did to help his brother, which by the way, was a lame excuse to justisfy his actions. When in Rome, do what the Romans do.

    And by the way, we Singaporeans are enjoying our laws. We don have to worry about getting hit accidentally by any stray bullets or having to worry about whether our young ones will easily have access to coke or crack on the streets, which cannot be said of where you come from.

    If you don want to suffer our strict laws, then don come here and play punk by testing our patiences or our laws. We welcome anyone coming here with open arms but if you do something against our laws, then don expect us to give you any special treatment just cos you are from another country. Ask Mr Fay, he should know it.

  3. There’s a terrible lack of logic here. It’s not enough to say, “They knew the risks and their actions have potentially fatal consequences” and then somehow think that this has posed a good enough argument to justify the taking of a human life. There is a vast gulf between “there is a penalty” and “they did harm” and then asserting, “death is a just penalty.”

    Death clearly is *not* a just penalty when there is no discretion allowed due to mitigating personal circumstances. (Not that I think it is just under any circumstances – but a mandatory sentence is that much more heinous.) And stating that there is a long held local tradition/law regarding particular infringements does not provide even a prima facie defense to human rights abuses. And the taking of a human life – be it through selling illegal substances or dangling someone in cold blood at the end of a rope – is a human rights abuse.

    The Australian government tries to use the deterrance factor in its asylum seeker penalty. As Julian Burnisde correctly points out, however, committing an injustice on one human being in order to prevent other people committing a crime is a gross injustice in itself, even in the presence of any dubious deterrant capabilities. (And if it were that effective a deterrant, it would never need to be used.)

    The presence and public knowledge of a law does not make it a just law.

  4. It may not be a just law but still, its our laws and you sure as hell better abide by our law when you are in our land. Making exception for 1 person will open the floodgates and then what? In the end, no one will obey our law and it will become a laughing joke.

    The point now is not about the law actually but rather about knowing the consequences of your actions and going ahead to commit the act. It only become a human rights issue when someone got convicted, so if he did not commit the act, then there really will be no human rights issue then.

  5. “It may not be a just law but still, its our laws”

    So justice doesn’t matter? Are you admitting that this was an injustice?

    Human rights apply to everyone, not only those without criminal convictions. In fact, it is when people come under the control of the state that human rights issues usually become most vulnerable and most important. Australia is in the middle of enacting some pretty barbaric ‘anti terror’ laws of their own which will criminalise activities so that the government can control particular individuals out of its reach so far. Under theirs and your logic, a government could enact whatever barbarity it liked and then it wouldn’t matter what happened to those caught under those laws, since they were criminals anyway. That’s circular logic, and it doesn’t work.

  6. Hi Jane.

    There is no injustice here. The fact is he commited a crime. Why would there be any injustice?

    I don’t really bother much with what crimes comes with the death sentence. I’m pretty ok with them since I don’t see myself breaking them.

    I always say this to everyone “If you don’t intent to commit the crime, why worry about the punishment?”

  7. “The fact is he commited a crime. Why would there be any injustice?”

    As someone else pointed out – what if there was a mandatory death sentence for jay walking? After all, that could cause an accident that could kill someone else. Would you be fine with that too? What if the person jaywalking was actually jay-running, on their way to get medication for a sick child or late for work lest they lose their job, and they just lost sight of the big picture?

    Even if you take away the complete lack of logic that comes with taking a life for taking other lives, the injustice is that this sentence is mandatory and makes no allowance for circumstances, character, recidivism or rehabilitation. I think if you are the one saying it’s okay to take a life, the onus is surely on you to prove that it is actually necessary and just? Or do you treat human life with such a cavalier attitude that you don’t care to think about the justice/injustice? Isn’t that what drug runners do?

    “I always say this to everyone “If you don’t intent to commit the crime, why worry about the punishment?””

    Um – because I care about people other than myself?

  8. Jaywalking is a minor offence. Drug trafficking is a serious crime. Do you see the difference?

    If the death sentence is applied on minor offence, of cos the citizen will step out and do something before the law been pass down. But drug smuggling a serious crime. Do you know how much harm can drug do? not only the drug abuser suffer, their family members also suffer great pain. We need to stand firm when it comes to drug smuggling.

    And even with the death sentence in place, there r still people who wants to test the system, try their luck and commit the crime. I don know what will happen if we reduce the sentence to life imprisonment. Would there be more drug smuggling?

    I do care about people other than myself too. I care about the people who were victims of drugs abuse. I understand where you coming from, but sorry, i cannot make myself show sympathy to a criminal who smuggle drug and harm hundreds of people on the streets.

    He did it because he wanted to save his brother. But does he knows that by doing so, he is harming alot of people?

  9. Well said, Iris and DK – my sentiments exactly. The guy was a scumbag drug runner – they are the scum of the earth, they cause more misery than any wars, and for what? Utterly selfish reasons, usually money. Save his brother? He was a druggie anyway – pity he wasn’t hung next to his dear twin..sorry.

  10. To cranky,

    If jaywalking will cause severe lost of life and ruination of families, yes, mandatory death sentence is required, but it does not, so there is no need to hang someone just because they jaywalk. Just to put it in prospective; illegal possesion of firearm, drugs and murder among others are crime that either carries a mandatory death or a maximum deathpenalty. My heart goes out to the poor mother but what would you prefer us to have done, send him onwards to Australia just so they can brand us in league with the drug lords? The sentence has been there for 40yrs and that if death is the penalty then, I don’t see anyone from Australia argued about it, or is it because he carries an australian passport and he is special?

    To Jane, if you talk about severe, according to Islamic teaching the thief will have the hand that committed the crime be chopped off and according to leviticus, adulterers will be stoned. These laws are probably practiced somewhere in the world today. The only one that a jaywalker endangered are themselves and that would not warrant a punishment as severe. Someone trafficking drugs are out to make money on someone’s misery, they are at a point of time dealt with the title, merchant of death, would not a sentence of death be apt????

    As for Iris and DK, well said.

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