Singapore has made headlines once again for sentencing a man to death via Zoom. As readers may be aware, Singapore has been in the international spotlight of late as a result of extensive coverage of how the country treats its blue collar migrant workers.
While these two things may seem separate on the face of it, does it reveal something deeper? Does it showcase a seemingly callous mindset towards human life if authorities deem such lives as either replaceable or unproductive?
Singapore has long utilised the cheap labour provided by migrant workers from its poorer neighbours. In the words of Yeo Guat Kwang, former co-chairman of the National Trade Union Congress’s migrant workers centre to the China Labour Bulletin in a 2010: “When we look at the migrant workers’ issue, we are not looking at it from the perspective of human rights. We are looking at it on a need basis… Like it or not, we need to sustain and grow an economy that is able to generate an annual per capita [GDP] of US$35,000. At the end of the day, whatever factors would be able to help us to sustain the growth of the economy for the benefit of our countrymen, for the benefit of our country; we will definitely go for it.”
Clearly, the government has attributed different values to human life. But, is that the right thing to do for a first world country? Where is the humanity?
Without going into the morality of the death penalty, the fact that Singapore would utilise Zoom to sentence a man to death does not sit right. As the world goes into lock down and Singapore is itself battling against the coronavirus, surely condemning someone to death via Zoom is not a priority?
While the day to day running of the country must still continue even as Circuit Breaker (CB) measures are in place, does sentencing someone to death amount to essential day to day activities?
In Singapore, we appear to pride efficiency above all else? Yet, looking at how the coronavirus pandemic has panned out in Singapore, have we become to efficient at all the wrong things?
We seem so efficient in sending someone to the gallows yet do not seem to possess the foresight to see that the coronavirus would spread like wildfire within the migrant worker dormitories. We seem so efficient at utilising technology to end a man’s life but yet failed to take proactive action in February to curb the pandemic in the dormitories.
Are our priorities all wrong? Something to think about in the upcoming general election perhaps.