The second Parliamentary Sitting for the 14th Parliament of Singapore is underway. Among the questions fielded include questions in relation to the country’s continued use of the death penalty.
Jamus Lim, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Workers’ Party (WP) had asked if there had been any systematic study by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on the deterrent effect of a life sentence relative to the death penalty.
The mainstream media has long since been considered by some to be a mouthpiece for the ruling Peoples’ Action Party (PAP). Looking at the way the questions and answers on this issue have been reported by the mainstream idea seems to lend credence to this belief.
In replying this question (as reported by Channel News Asia), Minister for Law and Home Affairs, K Shanmuggam cited a survey conducted last year with 2000 participants where the majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the death penalty was more effective than life imprisonment as a deterrent against using firearms in Singapore.
However, is 2000 representative of society as a whole? Especially where someone’s life is concerned?
To bolster his point on the deterrent effect of the death penalty, Shanmuggam also (as reported by the Straits Times) used the example of firearms and stated that instances of firearms being used in robberies as well as kidnapping have dropped dramatically following the introduction of the death penalty for these crimes.
Will punishing a low level and poverty stricken presumed drug trafficker (without catching the king pin outside Singapore) by death really have the same deterrent effect as executing someone who brandishes a dangerous firearm by his or her own volition? Not sure if the example is really fit for purpose where drug trafficking is concerned.
Shanmugam also revealed (as reported by TODAYonline) that among the foreign respondents of the Government survey, 84 per cent also believed that the death penalty is more effective than life imprisonment in discouraging people from trafficking drugs into Singapore. Yet, which countries are these foreign respondents from? Is this conclusive?
It is interesting to note that each of Channel News Asia, the Straits Times and TODAYonline all reported Shanmugam’s reply before it came out on the publicly available Government webpage . This begs the question of whether or not the Government had sent its press release to the various mainstream media outlets before releasing the information to the public?
If so, is the relationship enjoyed by the Government and the mainstream media too cosy for it to hold the Government accountable? In favouring the mainstream media with first dips, is the Government providing its own narrative for the mainstream media to carry wholesale?