Today, I'd like to talk a little about Nguyen Tuong Van. In case you've been hiding under a rock for a while, he's the 25-year old Australian Viet who's about to be hanged in Singapore for smuggling 396g of heroin.
The Australian government's been trying its hardest to plead for clemency, with everyone from John Howard to Alexander Downer chipping in to try to persuade the Singaporean government not to hang the guy.
Obviously, it's not working. You didn't really expect the Singapore government to just go "Oh. No hanging? Oh, okay, sure thing" did you? Of course not; both sides know what has to happen. And y'know what I think? Good on them; everyone's playing their parts and in a few weeks, this whole mess will be over.
If I seem insensitive, do forgive me; I confess I don't even know the guy. What I do know is this, though: Singapore cannot afford not to hang him, for a few reasons.
Firstly, it must establish that anyone who traffics more than the "allowed" amount of drugs will be hanged. Anyone. Whether you're black, white or asian, Singaporean or Australian, you will receive the mandatory death penalty.
Secondly, it must show that the law will not succumb to external pressure. Once you're in our jurisdiction, you either play by our rules, or suffer our penalties. And no amount of pleading and prodding will help you.
Thirdly, the law must be upheld. A law is not a law if there isn't absolute certainty that penalties for infringement will be carried out. For example, there's no point having a law against corruption if corruption is tolerated. You know what I'm talking about.
What I really enjoy reading, though, is reports/opinions that state with absolute certainty and steadfast conviction that capital punishment is ineffective as a deterrant. Most of these then go on to point at "examples" like trafficking in Indonesia, and heroin production in Afghanistan.
Now, I don't know about Indonesia and Afghanistan, but in Singapore, you can be hung for drugs, murder, kidnapping, treason and firearms. Ever wonder why you can't just buy dope off the street in Singapore, like you can in Melbourne's Chinatown? Or why we don't get that many murders, or kidnappings? How about robberies involving guns? So yeah, I don't know about all those other countries, but it certainly seems to be working for us.
Also, is it just me, or have a lot of Australians been arrested for drug smuggling lately? Just from recent memory I recall the Corby chick in Indonesia, the so-called "Bali Nine", and that other Australian lady who was bouncing back and forth between Canada and the Carribean. What's up with that?
Anyway, this Nguyen guy. Some people say he should be let off the noose because he's a really decent guy. Apparently, he agreed to be a "mule" to pay off his twin brother's drug-related debts. Others are saying he should be given leniency because he confessed to the crime. The second one's a little ridiculous since he was pretty much caught with the drugs strapped to his body.
Now I'm not saying it wasn't a really noble thing for him to do, risking his own life for his brother's. Hey, that's what blood's about, right? It's the epitome of brotherhood: placing your brother's life before your own. He really is a genuine hero.
The only problem is that he knew. He knew what was going to happen if he got caught. He understood the risks he was taking, yet he chose to go ahead anyway. And while I admire his courage, he has to face the consequences of his decision. Hell, that's what makes it so admirable in the first place.
So yes, honour him as a good brother and a brave hero, but let him face the consequences of his choice.
And let it forever stand as a testimony to all: Our house, our rules. No negotiation.
Other opinions: UncleBeng, Dodge, an Australian
Tags: singapore, death penalty, nguyen tuong van