My Say

The Age newspaper’s online edition has a fairly regular “your say” section in which people can write in with their opinions. I have posted once or twice in this section on subjects that I feel strongly about. The latest topic has to do with the relationship between Singapore and Australia and how it has/hasn’t changed because of the Tuong Van Nguyen case. Australian citizen, Tuong Van Nguyen was caught in transit in Singapore with 396 grams of heroin on his way to Australia, he will be hanged on Friday.

The lawyer representing convicted drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van has launched a blistering attack on Singapore’s use of the mandatory death penalty regime ahead of his client’s likely execution on Friday.

With some calling for consumer boycotts and other protests, has the Nguyen decision irrevocably damaged Australia’s relationship with Singapore? Has the saga changed the way you view Singapore?

This is what I said:

No, this saga has not changed the way I view Singapore.

I have always viewed Singapore with the contempt that it so deserves.

They are not a “civilised” nation as we know it. They have nothing of the freedom of speech or universal suffrage that we enjoy here in Australia. Their media is one-sided, their government is one-partied and their outlook is overwhelmingly narrow-minded. They know nothing of the freedom of choice that we do. The saddest thing about all this is that the people of Singapore, though possessing of the best of intentions, know nothing other than this Orwellian nightmare of a country which they are spoon-fed from birth. Ordinary, otherwise decent people such as Joseph Koh, the Singaporean high commissioner, espouse their misguided dogma which pays no heed to the sanctity of human life or even simple, human compassion.

Van may well be a criminal but he is certainly not the cause of the drug problem, nor is his death the solution to it. His hanging will be but a drop in the ocean as far as the drug smuggling business is concerned but, for his family, that ripple will be a tsunami. Who gives anyone the right to take the life of another? Sure, nobody gave Van the right to ruin the lives of those who would take his drugs but removing him will not make a difference to the 26,000 ‘hits’ down the line who will, undoubtedly, get their heroin from somewhere else.

A country should be allowed to have its own laws, sure. However, we are a global village and we cannot ignore the fact that what happens in one country, in some small measure, affects us all. We should very strongly encourage Singapore to end this barbaric practice as it achieves nothing but condone a society in which violence as a form of justice is acceptable, which it is not.

Yes, Singapore is a very clean city. Yes, Singapore is a very safe city. Yes, Singapore is a very wealthy city. But at what price? Freedom. Perhaps even justice. We cannot and must not allow this to continue.

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