The delusions of the anti-death penalty activists  

drugs sg

In recent years, virtue signalling has reached fever pitch. The magic behind its popularity is that it doesn’t require concrete action. For many, a few clicks and likes on social media are all it takes to highlight one’s virtue. As for the choice of subject, imagine a coterie of like-minded individuals sitting around in a circle, brainstorming which oppressed, under-represented and marginalised group they should speak up for next. While there are plenty of disenfranchised communities around the world, a small group of activists in Singapore have taken it upon themselves that drug traffickers on the death penalty deserve our attention and pity.  

To champion their clause, the vocal minority began tugging at our heartstrings. Cue the string quartet, evocative images and heartfelt testimonials of grief from the relatives of the accused. Often, there is a tear-jerking backstory straight out of a Spanish telenovela – dysfunctional families wreaked by poverty and sickness, which led the drug traffickers down their chosen path. It makes for a gripping human interest story, except it is just that – a story. Or, in this case, a strictly one-sided account that glorifies the drug trafficker and deflects from the whole truth.  

Because as Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam said in a ministerial statement, what about the lives of those lost or wrecked by drugs? Children neglected by their drug-addicted parents. Families torn apart when drug addiction spiral into criminality and violence. The collateral damage is high in the world of drugs. And yet, stories of the very people society should be trying to protect have been strangely left out of the narrative of anti-death penalty activists. The question is, why?  

Again, we go back to their fondness for virtue-signalling. Highly educated and privileged, many anti-death penalty activists are either naïve at best or plagued by a saviour complex. To them, drug traffickers on death row make for the perfect underclass. Victims of circumstance with little to no agency in their actions.  

And considering how every David needs a Goliath, the criminal justice system thus becomes the enemy. Forget the fact that Singapore ranks consistently as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. In the misguided world of activism, the courts are unfair towards defence lawyers, dismissive of their appeals and racially biased. All are baseless accusations. But yet, the myths continue to gain traction among those consumed by a need to showcase their virtue. There is the activist group Transformative Justice Collective, online publication The Online Citizen Asia, Mr Andrew Loh, Ms Kirsten Han and Mr M Ravi, all of whom have seemingly lost sight of the bigger picture and the real enemy. 

Why Singapore needs to get tough on drugs  

Globally, many countries have either given up or lost the war on drugs. In South America, the power of drug cartels looms large over communities, turning murder and abductions into regular occurrences. Elsewhere in the West, the decriminalisation of drugs, once lauded as progressive, has been a failed experiment. That is because liberalising drug use creates the conditions that fuel addiction, crime, homelessness and unemployment. It was an idea paved with good intentions to reduce harm among drug users. But in the end, the price that innocent residents and children have to pay is far too high.  

For that reason, Singapore must continue its tough approach to the war on drugs. Because, unlike many other major cities, our streets are safe. There are no drug-plagued neighbourhoods or crime-ridden no-go zones. Neither are there used syringes or other drug paraphernalia lying around in the open endangering our children.  

All of these are the results of tough laws and stiff penalties. Drug users are frowned upon. As for drug traffickers carrying a significant quantity of certain drugs, they get executed. Anti-death penalty activists kick up a stink. Liberals worldwide call it a shameful policy. But what they failed to realise, is that death works well as a deterrent. Since introducing the death penalty for trafficking more than 1,200g of opium in 1990, there has been there was a 66% reduction in the average net weight of opium trafficked into Singapore. And as a testament to the effectiveness of this policy, most Singaporeans agree that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for trafficking drugs, said Mr Shanmugam. It is also important to note that the tough laws on trafficking are also accompanied by a comprehensive set of compassionate measures to treat and rehabilitate abusers. 

Singapore might be an outlier when it comes to drugs, but it is a badge of honour we hold dear and part of our exceptionalism. Perhaps when anti-death penalty activists stop their chase for virtue, they might start seeing drug traffickers for what they are. Scourge of the earth and proxy murderers who do not deserve our sympathy.  

Photo Source: The Strait Stimes© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.