The Straits Times
Published on Jan 08, 2013

We can't go soft on heinous crimes


CAPITAL punishment for the most horrific crimes is naturally a highly emotive issue ("Death penalty for heinous crimes not the answer" by Maruah; last Friday).

"Inconsistency in outcomes" in passing the death sentence, as mentioned by Maruah, is but a technical fault. Surely, Singapore cannot be held accountable for the failures of the criminal justice systems in other countries.

If our defence attorneys are able to save their clients from the gallows, it is because they did their job well. It is then for the prosecution to present its case more cogently.

Indeed, no criminal justice system can or should claim to be "foolproof". The risk of hanging an innocent man can be prevented by a stay of execution, in justifiable cases, pending further advanced forensic evidence.

"Open, rational and comprehensive discussion on the death penalty", if entered into, will go on interminably. Singapore would not be one of the safest cities in the world today if our Government had dallied on the matter. Strong leadership means doing what is honest, true and courageous for the country's best interest.

As long as there is an open and fair trial, with the accused afforded all legal recourse to defence, as well as in-built safeguards, justice will be seen to be stern yet fair, appropriate and timely.

As things stand in human affairs today, an inordinate number of heinous crimes against humanity go undiscovered, unreported and unpunished. Instead, victims are subjected to repeated indignities and fates sometimes worse than death itself.

The law must send the strongest possible message to would-be criminals that their lives are the price to pay for acts of inhumanity.

One should also not adhere blindly to the religious dogma of loving and forgiving the enemy unconditionally.

Until such time when humanity learns to co-exist peaceably, we simply cannot afford to go soft on the worst crimes perpetrated.

I salute our leaders and lawmakers for their courage and clear conscience in upholding the death penalty in Singapore.

Michael Gerald Hong