SINGAPORE: Dr Paul Ananth Tambyah, Chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party, has openly advocate for the abolishment of the death penalty.
In his capacity as Chairman of the Singapore Democratic Party, Dr Tambyah staunchly asserted that the death penalty is not only barbaric and unjust but also ineffective, calling for its immediate abolition to end the cycle of violence.
Dr. Tambyah’s vocal support aligns with the #StopTheKilling campaign initiated by the Transformative Justice Collective, a civil society group dedicated to advocating for transformative justice, particularly in the context of abolishing the death penalty.
The group is currently gathering signatures for a public petition urging a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Singapore. As of October 27, the petition has garnered 1,721 endorsements.
In a video published on the Transformative Justice Collective’s Facebook page, Dr. Tambyah delineates three compelling reasons for his opposition to the death penalty.
Firstly, Dr Tambyah considers the death penalty to be a barbaric practice, likening it to historical forms of cruel and inhumane punishment like burning people alive.
“the majority of countries all over the world have actually done away with the death penalty, and I think it’s high time that Singapore did so too”
Secondly, he argues that the death penalty is highly unjust, particularly in cases of drug offences.
He highlights that those most severely punished are often individuals from poor and marginalized communities.
He references a recent news report about certain accused involved in the landmark SS$2.8 billion money laundering scheme, faces charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA)., and some allegedly had profits from drug trafficking.
“but again, in most countries with death penalties for drug trafficking very few drug financiers actually end up with the ultimate punishment it is only the poor and marginalized to a penalized so unfairly.”
Lastly, Dr Tambyah contends that the death penalty simply does not work, citing scientific evidence to support his claim.
He contrasts the situations in Hong Kong and Guangdong, China, noting that despite the absence of the death penalty in Hong Kong, the drug trafficking problem there is no worse than it is in Guangdong, where executions are regular.
He also points to the contrast between safety in Denmark, where there is no death penalty, and Dallas, where executions are carried out regularly.
“Ultimately, though, the death penalty is barbaric unjust, unfair, and it doesn’t work. We should abolish the death penalty, stop the killing.”
“My policies save more lives than they take away,” Singapore law minister defends capital punishment
The Singaporean government has consistently maintained a strong defense of its current capital punishment policies.
Particularly noteworthy was Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam’s reaffirmation of the government’s stance during a September engagement session with the National Youth Council.
He reiterated his belief that the primary duty of the state is to “safeguard the safety and security of Singapore and protect lives,” defending the contentious use of capital punishment.
A participant raised the question regarding how Singapore can address the moral and ethical implications of capital punishment, and how the city-state can grapple with the irreversible act of the state taking a human life.
In response, Minister Shanmugam remarked, “That’s what my entire speech is about,” said the minister, noted the similarity between this question and the perspectives of anti-death penalty activists.”
“I can argue or I can put forward discussion points based on evidence, which I have,” he replied.
“But if you start from the position that it’s just wrong for a state to have the death penalty regardless of the facts, that means even if I show you that 10,000 lives have been saved, while 16 have been hanged, and if you say ‘Well, that’s irrelevant, the state just shouldn’t execute’, I respect that position.”
“You say, ‘You shouldn’t execute’. I respect that position. I’m not saying it’s wrong,” he said.
“But it’s a position based on ideology… I have slightly different values, which are (that) a state’s obligation is to ensure safety and security within Singapore and to save lives. ”
“And my policies save more lives than they take away,” he said, emphasising that the lives saved by his policies were “lives which actually would be lost”.
Mr Shanmugam added: “Once we discuss it along the lines of ideology, then you just have to agree to disagree.”
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