K Shanmugam on death penalty: S’pore govt has to ‘do right by S’poreans’


When it comes to the death penalty, the Singapore government has to do right by Singaporeans, said Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam during a recent interview with Bloomberg.

Affirming that more than 65 per cent of Singaporeans support the mandatory death penalty, Minister Shanmugam said that keeping it is in the best interest of society because Singapore believes that “the death penalty, in fact, saves thousands of lives, because of its deterrent effect”.

“We believe that it saves a lot of lives and it stops a lot of crimes. Now, therefore, if we believe that it is the best interest of society, Singapore, and if the vast majority of Singaporeans support it… then do you want us to change policy because four newspapers write about it, talking to the same three activists and quoting the same three activists?”

In Singapore, the death penalty is applicable only for a very limited number of offences that involve the most serious forms of harm to victims and society, such as intentional murder and trafficking of significant quantities of drugs. 

Look at the facts

He cited examples overseas examples of the ill effect of drugs.

“You’ve got the Chief of the largest police union in the Netherlands, saying that Netherlands is effectively a narco state. You have Sweden, another well-governed country, where there were 257 bombings relating to criminal gangs, related to drugs, 257 bombings. Law and order has now become a serious issue in society,” he said.

Drug gangs are also operating in Latin America, South America, where they terrorise people.

“Why are we ignoring all of this?”

Minister Shanmugam then cited the example of the United States, where the life expectancy for boys is four years less than in comparable countries.

“And some people who analyse it think that one whole year lost is due to the opioid crisis,” he shared.

In the interview, Minister Shanmugam also acknowledged that it is indeed a challenging time for Singapore when our neighbours are changing their stance on drugs. Thailand recently decriminalised marijuana and Malaysia is mulling over legalising the drug for medical purposes. 

“Of course it creates more challenges, because the more the availability of drugs, the more challenging it is to deal with it,” he explained. 

“But you know, [Singapore] government policy doesn’t get made in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok.”

Cover photo credit: Screen capture of Bloomberg interview