80 per cent Singaporeans in Reach survey say the death penalty should be retained

A survey by Reach of 1,160 Singapore residents found that 80 per cent felt the death penalty should be retained. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN FILE

SINGAPORE - An overwhelming majority of Singapore residents support the death penalty, according to a survey by government feedback agency Reach released on Thursday (Oct 6).

The survey found that 80 per cent of Singapore residents felt the death penalty should be retained. A total of 1,160 residents were randomly selected for the survey, which was carried out through the phone.

Only 10 per cent said the death penalty should be abolished and the remaining 10 per cent did not give a definitive answer or refused to answer.

In Singapore, capital punishment is mandatory for offences that include first-degree murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking above a certain quantity. In 2012, Parliament made significant changes to the Penal Code and the Misuse of Drugs Act, changing its policy from mandatory to discretionary capital punishment.

In cases of murder where the killing was unintentional, there is now the discretion to sentence the perpetrator to death or life imprisonment. Caning may also be ordered in cases where the sentence is life imprisonment.

According to the survey, there is widespread general support for the death penalty system, with 57 per cent outrightly supporting death penalty and 80 per cent of residents generally supporting the notion. In addition, 23 per cent said "it depends" and 13 per cent opposed it.

Those with higher education qualifications were more in support for the death penalty. Among those with a university and postgraduate qualification, 68 per cent supported the death penalty, while the number of polytechnic and and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates who support the death penalty is 62 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.

Among those those with primary school qualifications and below, 54 per cent support the death penalty.

A majority, or 82 per cent of those polled, agreed that the death penalty is an important deterrent that has helped to keep Singapore safe from serious crimes.

The survey also found that 81 per cent of those who generally supported the death penalty voted for the death penalty to be used as a punishment for murder; this was 78 per cent for using a firearm to commit a serious offence; 74 per cent for arms trafficking and 67 per cent for drug trafficking.

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