And there are those who worry that if mandatory death sentence were to be abolished, so the prisons especially Singapore will be overcrowded. Singapore is like an insect with multi-tentacles. Each tentacles will feed on the inefficiency of corrupted neighbors and making Singapore hyper rich in the process.
So it is only fair that some of these reformed youthful drug mule from harsh neighboring countries be given the life sentence instead of the gallows. Deserving is by no means easy. Cases need to be supported by prison personnels, counsellors, respectable religious leaders and NGOs like Vui Kong's cases.
As for resources, I believe the bureaucrats can come up with something. It's not like taking money out of Singapore or Malaysia. In Singapore case, its like spending less on upgrading of hawker centers and parks which do not need renovations. And hiring more people in prison and rehabilitation services. For Malaysia its simply less corruption and more money to fight rural poverty.
I betcha there are many more drug related death sentence in Singapore. You don't see oppositions and activists screaming like crazy on everyone of them. They are people with more limited resource than the government. And in Vui Kong case, it really touched a lot of us and definitely worth fighting for.
From what I knew from my former drug pusher friend, in the 1960s drug was a big problem. There were lots of people peddling drugs. Then came mandatory death penalty which managed to reduce drastically the number of people who were willing to smuggle to drugs.
But as time when by, the drug lord became smarter and nowadays those who get the death penalty are only small flies. In spite of the death penalty, there is still plenty of supply out there. Only the price has gone up making the drug bosses richer. There is no problem getting social or hardcore drugs at any nightspots in Thailand, Malaysia or even Singapore.
Excuse for being a bit irrational here, not everything in this world and especially legal system is black and white. If it was, the drug bosses from Myanmar to Malaysia to Iran to Africa will not find it so easy to acquire friendly financial services in laundering their ill
But then again the law is the law. To not follow it may lead to chaos. To exercise arbitrary discretion may lead to abuse of such authority. It applies to everyone. Including illiterate kerbau(mule) from a fractured upbringing who cannot read "Death Penalty of Traffickers?" in English, Chinese or maybe even Malay.
As serious as mandatory death penalties are, they are still just a man made legal instrument deemed useful as punishments or deterrent against drug trade. It should not be regarded as absolute and not allow for some discretion. Any enacted law should evolve(maybe abolished too) according to its effectiveness and relevancy.
At a Anwar Ibrahim Club forum, Hishamuddin Rais actually raised a very pertinent point. He said, "the constitution and laws are product of the ruling parties. When there is a regime change, so will the laws. There is nothing ultra special position and taboo about it ". He was referring to the micro-evolution of legal structure within a greater evolution of a society itself.
Discretionary provisions existed for centuries throughout all legal systems be it Syariah, British and Americans. Its the joker card meant to help the principle fairness and justice prevails. As with any joker it is an often abused double-edged sword. But without such provisions, there will be no recuse when governments enact cruel draconian laws that must be followed strictly by the law.
The best approach to macro challenges would be through mass citizen activism. Only then will the government be pressured to properly exercise the authorities and discretion that we gave them in the first place. Any judge, statesmen or academics no matter how well trained can be fallible. No ideology can be flawlessly applied to every circumstance. Even if there were no referendum, at least the legislature and judiciary will be pressured to come with a good general solution to the problem. And maybe as in calculus a particular solution to specific circumstances.
All I can say is that it is commendable to be a law abiding citizen. But that is not an end to itself. Art harun did 2 great piece on the illusion of justice of our man-made legal system : Jusitce Is an Illusion and Three Kid and A Flute.
The Greeks came up with the great concept of democracy. Democracy should not be reduced to being a mere governance method of regular elections. It should also be utilized as an ideology against man-made absolutism.
And also, the most important thing that I'd learnt from my decades in a much maligned Malay and Islam dominated educational system was Ibn Khaldun's work on civilization. In his work, the spirit of 'Asabiyyah' social solidarity is the core of any society/civilization.
When Assabiyah weakens, the elites will takeover. Oppression tricks will surface to turn the rest into herds and apathy will kick in. The society then will find it difficult to overcome the challenges it faces and subsequently lead to further decline. If we lost the spirit Assabiyah - no amount of technologies, public policies, legal or management system can save us.
As a society we cannot turn a blind eye anymore and just let legal punishment takeover. To escape poverty many rural youths especially Sabahans and Sarawakians flocked to KL and JB in search for a living. Some of them become vagrants in the cities. Instead of ending up on the streets many of these rural youths are eventually exploited to become Ah Long Runners and in Vui Kong's case a drug mule.
Hell do not break loose when we do not follow strict formality. Its only when indifference and apathy dominates us that our world becomes hell.