Tragedy In Singapore

In the next few hours, Australian Van Tuong Nguyen will walk to gallows where the Singapore government will carry out the death penalty. Nguyen's circumstances stem from an effort to smuggle nearly 400g of heroin into Australia from Cambodia. He was arrested at an airport in Singapore and has spent the last three years there. He was planning to use the proceeds from drug sales to help his twin brother Khoa pay off debts accumulated as a heroin user. Though the Australian government has pleaded with various officials in the Singapore government for clemency, all efforts have been unsuccesful.

Interestingly, in Australia, where there is no death penalty, opinion on Nguyen's punishment is evenly split according to a recent poll.

Very soon, a noose will be placed around his neck, and a trap door will open beneath his feet, snapping his spinal cord. His tongue will protrude, and he will lose control of his defecatory and urinary functions. And that's only if everything goes right in the hands of a skilled hangman. Lesser possibilities include decapitation and death by asphyxiation. I'm left wondering exactly which part of Nguyen's actions fit this gruesome punishment. Do the willing buyers of the heroin bear no responsibility for their actions? Is his motivation of wanting to help his struggling twin brother irrelevant? Or that he was only passing through Singapore briefly when he was arrested?

Unfortunately, all last minute legal options have been exhausted. A "lenient" Singapore government let Nguyen's mother to visit him yesterday and allowed her to hold his hand but wouldn't allow her to hug him goodbye. A life of 25 years will end needlessly, too soon.

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His "struggling brother" was

His "struggling brother" was struggling because of a $25,000 lawyer bill he incurred defending himself after he hacked another man's leg off with a machete.

You have to wonder at the stupidity of his choosing to fly through Singapore, when he could have gotten a flight that avoided death-penalty countries back to Australia. I don't think there are direct flights from Cambodia-Australia, but he could have gone via Hong Kong which doesn't have the death penalty.

It's pretty sad that nobody has gotten around to realising that drug users are the ones ultimately responsible for their own well-being, but trafficking through countries with the death penalty is one of the more stupid things you could ever do. Couldn't he have stolen something in Australia?

If he stole $25,000 worth of stuff (like 2 cars for example) the most he would have got was about 5 years.

I heard this on NPR tonight

I heard this on NPR tonight and I was just shocked. I'm against the death penalty here in the US, and like any good libertarian wacko I get upset about human rights violations caused by the drug war, but this makes all that look like nothing. Hanging?! For heroin?! For 14 OUNCES?!

My morning paper in NZ

My morning paper in NZ carries a very emotional - indeed sentimental and self-indulgent - leader on the business, during which it admits that Singapore's methods have kept that country virtually free of drugs. The argument against ineffective oppressive methods is easily made (attention: USA, UK, etc) but effective oppressive methods might have a justification. Anyway, my paper didn't want to consider that possibility, it just wanted to scream "barbarian" at Singapore, which seems to me churlish and arrogant. NZ has a large and growing drug problem, or so that same paper tells me on the other days of the week.

The only "drug problem" here

The only "drug problem" here in the US is the DEA and the FDA. I have no idea what your problem is there in NZ, but if you have trouble getting the drugs you want, maybe we can work out a deal.

I also never understood the

I also never understood the wholde "drug problem" business. In my home city, Vancouver, we have a large population of heroin users in our Downtown East side. Every single problem that I see stemming from them is a direct result of government problem solving. The city and provinicial governments finance anti drug efforts, the pay for treatment facilities, and have even established a safe injection site for the users. Thus their private choices have become a cost imposed on every tax payer in my province. Its like a goddam cycle: "drugs are a heavy cost on society, we have to fight them!" along with "We need x more dollars for this or that effort" ! And so annually millions of dollars get tossed at my city's heroin users, sorry "victims" and all of them go for nothing.

Tragic or not, the fact was

Tragic or not, the fact was that Nguyen did something in a country that regards drug possession as a *very* serious crime. DRUG TRAFFICKING CARRIES THE DEATH PENALTY is literally blared in my face when I disembark to go home in Singapore.

If we think that this is a tragedy, then we should aim to change the laws in Singapore. But one should take into account the cultural barrier: loud protests and threats of embargo did not stop the Singapore government from exercising its sovereignty, not in the least because loud accusations embarrass the government and it will hence treat those who make the most noise contemptuously. Issues of face are still very much alive in Singapore, which has a Chinese majority in its population.

If someone has a solution I would be very interested to know more.

When will the madness end? I

When will the madness end? I see no end in sight for the drug war. Every country seems to be on board to one degree or another, no country really putting its foot down and saying, "you know what, let's just blanket legalize chemical substances and forget about all this drug war shit".

My dream is that it comes down and comes down fast, but when? How? On the plus side, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe came down fast and suddenly, surprising everyone. I'd love something like that to happen in the drug war. Soon.

whats the diff if he ran

whats the diff if he ran into a bike gang club house, called them all stupid fuckin rednecks and got beat to death? who's fault is it? the way i see it, if your too fukin stupid to read the fine print, you deserve everything you get in life. almost every moron knows the penalities, they think they're smarter. if they didn't kill his stupid ass, the drugs or his dealer or aids etc etc etc would have done the job. :dunce:

What kind of idiot goes into

What kind of idiot goes into a country with intent to deliver, to another country, a substance that he knows he will earn the death penalty for.

If you anti death penalty idiots want to protest anything, protest his stupidity.

It is fairly obvious that the United States and other countries should adopt laws similar in nature. Drugs are not only a nasty scourge upon the nation but upon the families that it devastates.

Go whine away if you want to, snivel and cry, but in the end, he is dead, you cannot help him. All you can do is convince people to stop being so stupid. Maybe this will deter the next moron wanting to sell dope (I doubt it... they are too stupid to begin with!!!!)

It is fairly obvious that

It is fairly obvious that the United States and other countries should adopt laws similar in nature.

Not to most of us here it's not obvious.

theres certainly no reason

theres certainly no reason to feel sorry for him. at the same time it IS a ridiculous, off the charts penalty. but hey, thats life.:dunce:

Yeah a case of culling the

Yeah a case of culling the stupid gene pool. Its not like Singapore's drug laws are not widely known in Oz or anything. :wall: Would it have been right for the taxpayers of Singapore to have to pay for the cost of keeping this idiot foreigner in prison for life?

He must have known the

He must have known the risk.

He must have known the penalty.

Just as I would if I went to the US and while visiting Texas decided I needed to shoot someone.

That does not make the death penalty any less immoral. The law and its morality are for the people of Singapore or Texas or China or wherever.

When in Rome...

Merthanb, I don't think the


I don't think the objection was to the death penalty. I'm sort of neutral on that. I don't think there is any good argument against the death penalty other than the fact that it is so final, and we do make mistakes. I am wishy washy on whether that is a sufficent argument or not.

I'm not sure I know what the point of the article was but it certainly wasn't that.

Thinking of my objections to having the death penalty. They merely amount to "Hey, they are killing somebody for doing something that is voluntary on the part of all interested parties." and "Why do they think they have a right to interfere in other peoples business". In this case I see none that would work any better to protect you from a death penalty for posting using the handle "Merthanb". Maybe such a death penalty would deter future people who wish to post under such a handle.

Digamma, You say, "Hanging?!


You say, "Hanging?! For heroin?! For 14 OUNCES?!".

I sort of understand your outrage but I am not sure why you chose those particular words to express it.

What if it was two hundred pounds, would that make it OK. Suppose it was provable that he had made over 200 trips between the two countries over the last year with no reasonable explanation. Does the amount matter to you?

I wondering because I'm of a libertarian bent and it seems to me that the main problem here is with the giving of any penalty what-so-ever.

Now if you buy the argument that as a dealer he is "out to kill his customers", that dealing is a crime, and all that, then the amount really doesn't matter, does it? Shouldn't crimes in which the criminal is hard to catch carry penalties larger than the actual damage done?

If there is a 1 in 5 chance of getting caught, then paying restitution for the one crime they caught you for seems inadequate.

It is fairly obvious that

It is fairly obvious that the United States and other countries should adopt laws similar in nature. Drugs are not only a nasty scourge upon the nation but upon the families that it devastates.

The only "nasty scourge" around here is the DEA and folks like you who support its oppression.

"There certainly is no

"There certainly is no reason to feel sorry for him"-Quest

Then why do I feel sorry for him? Do I have a personality flaw?

Yeah a case of culling the

Yeah a case of culling the stupid gene pool.

I understand your sentiment although I don't agree with it. Do we really want the government in the business of culling the gene pool.

Besides in this case aren't they doing the opposite. If using herion really is like committing suicide then isn't the government interfering with that natural process?

That's one think I never understood about Nazi Germany. Weren't they interfering in natural selection by killing off the Jews

What positive effects does culling the gene pool have for me? Who's going to clean the toilets at the office if your program succeeds in killing off all the stupid people? :)

Would it have been right for the taxpayers of Singapore to have to pay for the cost of keeping this idiot foreigner in prison for life?


It wasn't fair that I had to pay for keeping Martha Stewart in jail either, considering she committed no real crime. I guess this means we should have executed her too. Think of all the money we could save if we executed prostitutes also.

Let's go further, we could actually make money of this. :) Suppose we just took that heroin, sold it, and used the money to keep Nguyen in jail. We could even run the jailhouse as a brothel in the case of the prostitutes.

As you can see I don't think the answer to your question has any bearing on the subject of whether the guy should be executed.

Merthanb, On further


On further reflection of the sentiments in your post I am wondering why, with your distain for stupid behavior, you give one whit about drug users. After all isn't their behavior stupid also?

Your concern for devistation to families rings hollow to me because of this. I'm sure Nguyen's family will be devistated by this. I don't see any concern on your part for that. What about the devistation that is caused to the drug users families by the very laws used to suppress drug use? Do you think the family of say a occasionaly pot smoker would be better off in say Holland or Singapore.

My father was friends with a lawyer named Joel Proyect. He was an occasional marijuana user but never did it in my presence. He was a hard working guy and whenever I would visit he was working hard on his house, building furniture, moving lumber, and the like. That was in addition to being a fine lawyer. He had a beautiful house by his own private three acre lake. Apparently, it wasn't having any real ill effects. If he says it helped him deal with life then who am I to disagree? He was certainly doing better than my non-using father in many ways. His one mistake was that he was open about the fact that he smoked marijuana, said it helped him.

Do a google search on his name and "marijuana". You can read about how his family was devistated by just the kind of laws people like you advocate. People who pretend to be concerned about families. It still saddens me that people like you support the stealing of his house and his five year incarceration.

BTW, I never saw a single pot plant while at his home, nor smelled any pot smoke. I think he started growing the plants after the times I had visited because I was quite the avid explorer as a kid, and am quite the botanist.

i care very deeply about the

i care very deeply about the persons, and my, right to own a firearm but if they insist on cleaning it while loaded and looking in the barrel, well..... heheheheheh..... thats life dumb dumb.:dunce: keep that ole gene pool a churnin.

Quest, All my comments were


All my comments were not direct at you. I didn't ask if you care deeply anyone or about the gene pool. That was Merthanb and Andrew respectively.

But now that you have chimed in ...

What right to own a firearm? We are talking about Singapore, there's a death penalty for that too. So I guess you'd be one of the ones eliminated from the gene pool.

I don't recall the article claiming that Nguyen was a dope user just a dealer. So I don't see how your claim to the effect that "he would have been eliminated from the gene pool anyway" applies.

I would also like to dispel the notion that I in any way have any deep feelings for Nguyen. I sorry for him the same way I do the starving children in African, enough to give me a inkling of sympathy, but not enough for me to do anything about it. I'm not going to be down at the Singapore embassy protesting tomorrow. I am going to curtain any plans for a vacation there however. Seems like a dangerous place to be even when you are innocent.

BTW. When I wrote devistated I meant devastated. I'm not a great speller but I don't know where the heck that came from.

From what I have read this

From what I have read this guy was not "an innocent duped" either. He smuggled drugs in Singapore...the punishment is dead...end of story. I meant that he broke the law, knowing full well what he is so he is an idiot and the penalty is death.

I am for the legalisation of all drugs, but that doesn't mean I think this guy should get let off in a foreign country.

Sadly...this is exactly what

Sadly...this is exactly what some Conservatives I know would like to start doing here....

Andrew, are you saying that

Andrew, are you saying that it's ok for a government to kill drug smugglers as long as they advertise it? Or, perhaps you're saying that it's ok for a foreign government to kill people according to its laws.

I can understand pointing out that people should not bring drugs to Singapore, that it may be considered a dumb idea (still, we don't know his story), but what does that have to do witht he merit of the punishment?

again, i feel very strongly

again, i feel very strongly that the penalty is way overblown, ruthless ,and ultimately ineffective. BUT if you wanna clean your gun while looking into the loaded barrel theres not much anyone can do for you. a woman stuck her head into a polar bears cage and he bit it off. should we shoot him? was he wrong? when dealing with 'animals'(government) who are less forgiving, unpredictable, and benevolent than us libertarians, its very important to ere on the side of caution.