Friday, November 25, 2005

The case of Nguyen Tuong Van

This topic is everywhere in Australia: an Australian is due to be executed by hanging on 2 Dec in Singapore for heroin smuggling.

Since there are so many articles about this issue available online, I'll not retype the story here.
For a recap, here are some links: (link 1) (link 2). There are some lively discussion in CNA's Forum too (link).

I don't know why is there such a big hoo-ha over the issue, the death sentence was passed years ago, and it's only weeks before the execution then the media start to kick up such a big fuss? If Singaporeans got caught overseas for commiting crimes, the locals will only further condemn them, probably bringing them back to hang them ourselves if they are set free abroad. Heck, this shouldn't even be our problem, the drugs are meant to be delivered to Australia, Singapore is only a transit along the journey, maybe we should ignore the problem and let the drugs kill many more in Australia bah. And who else in this world needs a reminder of how strict the laws here are?

Though I know that the media is always biased; looking from the skewed news articles from Australia, and the pro-Govt stance in our own media (Thanks to Google news) I for one, strongly feel that Singapore should not give in and grant clemency. The implications to lift the death penalty is too serious to consider the alternative.

How many die on drugs each year? How hard is our government clamping down on drug abuse? The laws are in place to deter and protect, and for years it has served us very well.

It's weird that while Australia wanted other countries (especially in the golden triangle region) to clamp down hard on drug dealers which accounts for its own drug problems, it wants S'pore to go lax on an Australian drug trafficker instead. Isn't this practicing double standards?

Let's say that if Singapore is to give in, what kind of message is it sending? An infringement of a country's sovereign right? That we can also request Australia to let our criminals there off lightly? That drug lords will use more Australians as drug smugglers because they will be pardoned? That more Australians will see this as an encouragement to become drug smugglers because it's easy money with no fear of losing their lives? That there'll be many more drug addicts in the world and in Australia because of it?

The skewed Australian media chose to place emphasis on one person instead of the predicted deaths on so many more addicts if the drugs went unnoticed. It constantly harped on the 'good boy turn desperate to save another' theme to make people sympathise with him. But a crime is a crime, irregardless of the reasons behind commiting them.

On whether the law is too tough, I'll say yes. But it's for everyone's good.


mrdarren said...

How many die on drugs each year? How hard is our government clamping down on drug abuse?

There were around 1000 drug abusers arrested in 2004. Yet, among these 1000 and the ones that did not get arrested, NONE have died of drugs overdose.

Do you recall reading in local newspapers of anyone dying from drug overdose? In fact, when was the last time any Singaporean died of drug overdose?

I think the main argument against drugs is the social ills. But the same social ills apply for gambling addicts and nicotine/smokers.

Please read more on the harm of drugs:

Dave Jarvis said...

Socially, exaggeration is often whimsical. But when a government dramatically inflates numbers to help justify a death sentence, the integrity of both the trial and its governing body becomes questionable. In this case, the government is Singapore, the trial was for Van Tuong Nguyen, and the bloated number is 26,000.

Press from around the world quotes Abdullah Tarmugi, the Speaker of Singapore Parliament, in writing about the potential consequences of Van's actions, "almost 400 grams of pure heroin, enough for more than 26,000 doses."

But how was 26,000 doses (or "hits") derived?

It turns out that what constitutes a hit of heroin is not an easy thing to count. There are dozens of factors to consider; contact your local Needle Exchange for a comprehensive list. However, after collecting statistics from over a dozen sources (including police reports, narcotics web sites, health information, and workers from needle exchanges), the number of hits from a gram of pure heroin averages out to little more than 14.

Van Tuong Nguyen trafficked 396.2 grams of heroin into Singapore. This is approximately 5,600 doses.

The numbers 5,600 and 26,000 are obviously incongruous, as are reports that 400 grams of heroin would "ruin 26,000 lives". In fact, 400 grams of heroin would not come close to ruining even 5,600 lives. Rather, the heroin would most likely supply people already abusing it. With a little more research, we can estimate how many lives would be adversely affected by 400 grams of heroin during one year:

As many as 67, and as few as 6.

Van Tuong Nguyen would not have sent 26,000 people to their deaths from 400 grams of heroin. Nor would the lives of 26,000 people have been ruined. Far more likely is that six people would get a year's worth of hits. And for this he must hang?

Call it dreadful, call it dense, call it incomprehensible ... but do not call it justice.

Dave Jarvis

John RL said...

Well, call it whatever you want, he came to Singapore with drugs broke the law of the land and now he has to pay. Does some Australians actually think that it's citizens could be excuse from local judicial systems of the world? Singaporeans value their land, cultural and traditions as much as every Australian with theirs, I guess, I am not saying what the Singapore government is right or wrong, but, when in Rome.......................

tell it as it is said...




jules said...

I'm opposed to death penalty because I believe it is simply organized murder. It sends the message that life is cheap. The authorities are effectively saying that it's ok to kill someone if you really want to. In this case however, there is also the issue of a mandatory death sentence, where the judicial system has no latitude when sentencing individuals in wildly different circumstances. It is a sign of an immature and insecure society that it has to kill its own and others citizens. Singapore has the highest per capita execution rate in the world. This issue cannot be discussed in the stifled and limited Singaporean media. And who knows what Singaporeans would do if they had a real democracy and a chance to discuss the issues openly.

Incidentally, if Singapore govt really cared about the drug problem they would stop supporting the second largest drug producing nation, Myanmar, its drug kingpins and military dictatorship.

Js said...

I realised that there are alot of baseless rumors flying around aimed to evoke strong reactions and emotions in both S'pore and Australia regarding this issue.

I'm wondering if the rumor mongers are not from the two countries, out to stir trouble and unrest. Terrorist plot perhaps? It's easier than sending suicide bombers.

D.W. said...

Drug merchants like Van Tuong Nguyen have contributed to the suffering and death of many young people, mainly for their own selfish,greedy financial gaines. He took the risk and lost.
I feel sorry for his mum, who most likely did not know what he was doing.
Who are we to tell other countries how to deal with criminals.
May God forgive him for his errors.

Australians4Australians said...

From: We are Australian hypocrites.

We Australian’s condemn the death penalty only when other nations execute one of our own. Why? Because we are ass-holes.

Don’t you believe me? Then read the following:

On 16 February 2003 the Australian PM said in a Sunday morning television interview that the Bali bombers “should be dealt with in accordance with Indonesian law. …and if [the death penalty] is what the law of Indonesia provides, well, that is how things should proceed. There won’t be any protest from Australia”.

In early March 2003 the PM told US television that he would welcome the death penalty for Osama Bin Laden. “I think everybody would”, Mr Howard said.

In response to these comments:

“Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia would not intervene if bin Laden was to be executed. ‘I personally have never supported the death penalty but in the case of Osama bin Laden, I don’t think that too many tears would be shed if he was executed, bearing in mind all the people he’s responsible for killing.”

See I told you!

Now why don’t we want the lives Bali bombers spared? Because they are not Australian. See we are ass-holes.

Now read this:

JOHN Howard has denied it is hypocritical to seek clemency for Australians facing the death penalty abroad, but not to oppose it for deposed Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein.

The Prime Minister, disturbed by the death of Nguyen Tuong Van, has promised Canberra will campaign for clemency should any of the Bali Nine be condemned to death in Indonesia.
Mr Howard said yesterday his opposition to capital punishment did not extend to Saddam, the former Iraq dictator on trial in Baghdad for genocide.
"It's not hypocritical, it's just human," he told Melbourne radio after Van's execution yesterday morning.
"You bring your own subjective judgment about the quality of the behaviour involved in the action that has led to the imposition of the death penalty."
While reluctant to speak on the fate of the nine Australians facing heroin charges in Bali, Mr Howard guaranteed support for other Australians sentenced to death in foreign countries.
"Clearly, if people in the future are sentenced to death, Australian citizens, we will advocate clemency," he said.

How about this one:

Three more Australians are reported to be on death row in Asia following the execution of Nguyen Tuong Van in Singapore on Friday.

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper says Mai Cong Thanh, 46, from Melbourne, and Nguyen Van Chinh, 45, from NSW, are facing death in Vietnam after being convicted of conspiring to smuggle heroin into Australia. The other Australian, Henry Chhin, is in jail in China after being arrested in May last year and convicted last March of trying to send 270 grams of methamphetamine to Australia.

It says they lost their appeals against the death sentence earlier this year, and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer is supporting calls for clemency.

The paper says that in the past Vietnam has commuted the death sentences of several Australians after pleas by the Australian government.

As I said, we are Australian self serving, ass-holes.

We are Australian hypocrites said...

The hypocrisy of it all

What I find even more amazing is the way in which Australians ignore the plight of victims of crime, even those who are murdered; unless of course the murderer is from another country, then he/she (the murderer) is barbaric, evil, or a terrorist. Otherwise the victims and their families are left to fight their own battles.

The public don't have a 5 min silence for these victims, the churches don't ring bells in memory of the victims, and the media seldom mention them; but even worse no one cares until the criminal gets out and attacks them, then we are back to square one again and the new victim is just another statistic.

One life more valuable than another? said...

By imposing the death penalty, it is saying that one life is more valued than another, that is why it is morally incorrect.