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Teo Soh Lung: ‘too simplistic’ to believe death penalty will solve Singapore drug crimes

In response to MHA’s rebuttal, Singaporean lawyer and activist Ms Teo Soh Lung reiterated her view that the death penalty isn’t effective against drug issues. She highlighted that harsh penalties haven’t curbed drug trafficking, evident in ongoing arrests despite decades of enforcement.



SINGAPORE: Following the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) rebuttal and renewed defence of the city-state’s harsh stance against drugs on Tuesday (21 May), Ms Teo Soh Lung, a Singaporean lawyer and activist, penned a response to the MHA, defending her initial comments and clarifying her position on several key points.

Regarding the Singapore government’s ongoing policy of capital punishment for drug traffickers, Ms Teo reiterated her belief that the death penalty is not an effective solution to drug problems.

She argued that people resort to drugs for various reasons and that harsh penalties have not eradicated drug trafficking in Singapore, as evidenced by the continued arrests despite nearly 50 years of enforcing the death penalty.

“To believe that the death penalty will solve Singapore’s drug crimes is too simplistic, ” said Ms Teo.

MHA defends firm drug policies amid Ms Teo’s criticism of minister’s speech

On 17 May 2024, MHA responded to criticisms by Ms Teo regarding Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam’s statement on Singapore’s drug policies, which was delivered in Parliament on 8 May 2024.

The former lawyer expressed her concerns in a Facebook post dated 12 May 2024, condemning the government’s approach as ineffective and accusing Mr Shanmugam of abusing parliamentary privilege.

In his parliamentary speech on 8 May, Mr Shanmugam described Singapore’s anti-drug efforts as a “war,” highlighting the immense human cost traffickers inflict by profiting from the drug trade.

He emphasized the grave consequences of the drug problem, characterizing it as a battle with a significant toll on lives.

Mr Shanmugam defended Singapore’s stringent narcotics policies, asserting their effectiveness and broad support among Singaporeans.

However, he criticized certain groups for baselessly attacking these measures and assisting inmates in manipulating legal processes to evade just penalties.

On 12 May, Ms Teo lambasted the ministerial approach, stating, “Minister Shanmugam and many PAP ministers are fond of misusing parliament. ”

“They know that whatever statements made in parliament are privileged. The parties wronged by them would not be able to respond.”

She further lamented the presence of former drug abusers in Parliament, saying, “I don’t know if they would be happy, proud and grateful to him for doing that. But there they were in parliament being entertained by the minister!”

In response, the MHA clarified the intent behind inviting former drug abusers to Parliament: “MHA invited former drug abusers to Parliament to celebrate their courage and resilience in their rehabilitation journey. ”

“They were moved by the tribute given to them in Parliament, and many are now helping other drug abusers to kick the habit as well. Their families were invited too, to recognise the critical role that they played in helping their loved one turn over a new leaf.”

The MHA’s statement also defended the strict drug policies. The MHA acknowledged that while the drug problem cannot be completely eradicated, the goal is to reduce the number of abusers and save lives.

MHA emphasized the negative consequences seen in countries with lenient drug policies, including increased overdose rates and drug-related crime and violence.

The MHA reiterated that the 8 May Ministerial Statement (MS) provided factual accounts of court cases, highlighting unmeritorious applications often filed last-minute to obstruct sentences.

The MS included references to anti-death penalty activists who assisted in these applications and mentioned the issuance of POFMA notices for falsehoods related to these prisoners.

Criticism of consistent harsh treatment and ineffective targeting of major drug dealers

In a statement issued on 21 May, Ms Teo rejected the allegation that she thought “poorly of former drug abusers.”

She emphasized her history of advocating for the weak and her role in founding the Criminal Legal Scheme of the Law Society. She also highlighted her past stance against the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew when he undermined the Law Society.

Ms Teo clarified that her concern about the television coverage of former drug addicts and their families was based on the sensitivity surrounding their past.

She accepted that her concern was unnecessary, given the minister’s assurance that all individuals were aware of the media coverage.

On tackling drug issues, she asserted that the death penalty is not an effective solution to drug problems.

“People resort to drugs for many reasons. To believe that the death penalty will solve Singapore’s drug crimes is too simplistic. ”

She criticized the consistency in the harsh treatment of drug offenders under successive ministers, noting that while the laws severely penalize drug mules, the major drug dealers often evade capture.

“And so it is hard for me to accept that the death penalty works. If it did, no one should be caught for drug trafficking today as the death penalty has been our law for nearly 50 years now. ”

Ms Teo expressed solidarity for activists who stand up for the powerless, particularly those assisting death row prisoners.

She defended the practice of filing last-minute legal applications to save lives, citing the example of Yong Vui Kong, whose life was spared due to such efforts. She argued that dismissing these applications as unmeritorious overlooks the potential to save lives.

While Minister Shanmugam waived his parliamentary privilege regarding the Ministerial Statement, allowing anyone to take legal action if they find the contents actionable, Ms Teo highlighted a recurring issue with many PAP ministers: their reluctance to engage in debates.

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This is a lazy Minister. He doesn’t take steps to secure the borders but acts like he has a rein over the drug mules after allowing the drugs into the State. So he deflects his incompetence by using the hanging which has not stopped the increase in drug usage. LW please replace this Minister immediately. He is a liability to the State.

Why don’t the PAP tell us what studies they have done, what they thought doing as alternative to hanging, so many innocent (lives are sacred, by divine and for divinity, Shan has no say) lives has ended in their hands. Like for eg. One can understand from PAP this system that system they had studied, Plan A, or Plan B they mooted. Publicise TO the WHOLE OF Singapore since we ARE ALL in it as a nation for the good of drug criminals, and our risks to drug abuses protection. So it’s important – do the PAP has ANY WHITE… Read more »

Is the death penalty international standards as in so many things PAP Administration claims.

So none is applicable for local standards based on prevailing local morals, sensitivities, cultures and on the considerations of so many nationalities now making up the HUGE MESS of SG – Malays, Myanmar, China, Philippines, Viets, Africans, Mid Easterns, Non Traditional Europeans and so on unlimitedless.

I just want to argue that, no matter the severity of the punishment for any crime committed be it corruption or drug peddling or drug consumption or drink driving, such crimes (or any crime for the matter) will NEVER be totally eradicated for the simple reason there will always be people who believe they can get away with it. To me, to call the fight against drug a failure because it still persists is too simplistic. It is not a one plus one equals two situation. I would invite TSL to offer some solutions to solving or limiting the drug… Read more »

Agree entirely with Teo S Lung. It’s not only Shan dare to disclaim Parliamentary privileges to challenge others to sue him. 2ndly the PAP Aligned Courts and it’s judiciary including all court clerks DPPs has to be disbanded if ever in this particular instance to sue Shan bcz all these in total UNDRESS Shan ofnall his cover, incl under cover, pretext to argue his death penalty defence. 3edly PAP Administration COERCED to open books, provide statistics, full details of the effectiveness of death penalty and why no drug chiefs has ever been reported to be nabbed. 4thly, finally. What’s the… Read more »

Is a deterrent, ample warning already given before one steps into Singapore soil. If you carry drugs, you would face the capital punishment. The price to pay is high, with your life. People still wants to risk with their life, is their call. In actual fact to send you to gallow is not so simple. You already got tracked and has a long list of records in the system and is beyond reasonable doubt you are a smuggler. Those activists who trying to defend them should know they are protecting someone who brings harm to Singapore people.

How many years have we had this capital punishment for drug offences? Donkey years. And we are STILL having this “drug” problem. So on that score, such a policy has FAILED. It’s just that without such a policy, we would have failed BIGGER.

Maybe we should EXTEND the capital punishment to drug USERS as well, not just the dealers. Will it solve the problem? NO, it WON’T. It would just fail SMALLER.

Killing prisoners seem like for sport and trophy.
So sickening !
Heartless and showed no vestige of human decency.

The death penalty could be effective. The problem lies with its application. Would local crime syndicates bother with the illicit drug trade in Singapore if the bosses of those organisations knew that they could be arrested and executed? Local Drugs lords continue operating in Singapore, because they know that the ruling government will not harm them. Why is that? Because for years and years the ruling government has only gone after drug dealers and drug mules. Why have the harsh penalties not applied to the bosses running the show? So the question now becomes, why can’t the ruling government go… Read more »

Last edited 30 days ago by Blankslate

Just make it clear TSL is not from oppo camp. I am sure true oppo support death penalty for the good of the people.

Typical bully, … who abuses parliamentary privileges and then says, “come and sue me” !!! Sure, … in “his/their” Courts ?!!! !!! Which takes us back to, … abusing parliamentary privileges !!! Not for the first time either, … taking a right ‘ol piss of the sanctity of parliament, as they have all done, to clear and exonerate themselves !!! Besides, why would MHA need to come to Bully’s defence and go on the offense against TSL !!! Can’t Bully defend himself, or, … do we need to witness as we did, multiple ministers, the PM, the SLA and the… Read more »

Kindly send fucktard Teo to Mexico drug infested places ,to see whether she would change her view that death penalty is the best weapon left to deal with kinds like these.
Oh…that is…if she can come back in…ONE PIECE!
No wonder oppo fucktards never could get elected.
Something so obvious also use to stir …SHIT!