SADPC responds to proposed amendments to the Mandatory Death Penalty

~ by Rachel Zeng ~

Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) is glad to receive the news that the Singapore government has taken the step to make alterations to the application of the mandatory death penalty.

We gratefully acknowledge that the government has halted all executions since July last year, while looking into possible amendments towards the currently rigid procedures behind the mandatory death penalty and we take this as a positive message that the government recognises the need for legal reform.

From our understanding, the proposed amendments, once implemented, will allow for judicial discretion in sentencing some criminals convicted of drug-related and murder cases to life imprisonment with caning, which is perceived to be a lighter sentence than death.

With this, we hope that drug mules like Yong Vui Kong, Cheong Chun Yin, and Roslan bin Bakar who each had been used as vehicles for drug trafficking syndicates, will be spared the gallows. Effort should also centre on curbing the proliferation of these drug syndicates, which employ and mislead youngsters to a job that will ultimately lead them to face the severest of judicial penalties.

However, while we commend the changes that will allow for judicial discretion in sentencing criminals, we are of the opinion that life imprisonment with caning, although generally perceived as a lighter punishment, is equally cruel, especially if it is being meted out to criminals who are mentally disabled.

We would like to reiterate that there has been no statistical proof thus far, stating that the existence of the death penalty or the mandatory death penalty has any deterrent effect on crimes and would like to appeal for the government to take into consideration, more humane and rehabilitative methods of punishment rather than the death penalty. SADPC would like to take this opportunity to express our hope to be able to engage the relevant authorities and government departments in discussion with regards to this, in the hope of establishing a more humane system of punishment which will allow for rehabilitation and reform.