The Straits Times
Published on Jan 08, 2013

Death sentences not meted out lightly


I DISAGREE with Maruah's position on the death penalty ("Death penalty for heinous crimes not the answer"; last Friday).

Maruah said the perpetrators of genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia escaped the death penalty.

Many countries and the United Nations have been involved in prosecuting these criminals. Even if no death penalties were imposed on the criminals, it does not mean that such punishment should not be applied to violent criminals in other countries. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Maruah's second argument against capital punishment seems to be based on cases involving drug traffickers in Singapore who eventually escaped the hangman's noose.

The criminal justice system in Singapore is incorrupt and competent in that, unless an accused is found to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the death sentence would never be imposed.

So it is to the credit of the Singapore judiciary that a few people escaped the gallows, not because of any miscarriage of justice, but rather the strength of the defence counsel and the fairness of our courts.

Lastly, Maruah implied that Law Minister K. Shanmugam based his views of capital punishment against heinous crimes on emotive circumstances.

There is nothing wrong with arriving at decisions from a righteous and emotional position. Do not all issues of life and death, as well as violence and peace, originate from human emotional response? Is it against human nature that the public, the judiciary and the victim's families should use their rightful emotions to arrive at rational and objective decisions against the guilty? Is Maruah promoting stoicism at the expense of righteous anger against those who killed the Delhi rape victim?

George Lim