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BOYCOTT ALL TRAVEL TO SINGAPORE

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11. Posted by Peter (Admin 5807 posts) 11y

Agreed, keep away from slanderous, inflammatory comments please. That doesn't mean we can't discuss this properly though.

I see both sides of the argument and personally agree the penalty is far too harsh in his circumstances.

OzeHiker didn't present the case very well. There are several points, beside the 'first time offender' logic that are in fact far more compelling.

1. He was virtually driven to do this to save his brother from a very bad debt. Sob story, I know..
2. He was caught in transit. He was not in fact smuggling drugs into or out of Singapore. I don't know about you, but if I were fined $1000 in transit at Singapore airport for chewing gum, that would seem kind of strange no? In other countries with similarly strict regulation (Malaysia, Thailand), they have been known to take this into account.
3. The Singaporean system is one of mandatory death sentence. It means that regardless of your circumstances, you are effectively screwed if you are found with drugs on you. So no matter how those drugs ended up on him, he must die under their law. Something which I personally find reprehensible. There are always grey areas in life and why a judge is not allowed to take that into account is beyond me.

On the flipside, I do respect that Singapore has the right to enforce their laws (though enforcing it on people in transit is somewhat dubious). I have no plans to boycott them in any way for this. I have always found Singapore to be a very friendly place and would be more than happy to visit again.

And in all fairness, Australia has its fair share of dubious policies that I find utterly disgusting as well, but that doesn't make me want to leave. Kids being locked away in detention anyone?

12. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 11y

Quoting Peter

I see both sides of the argument and personally agree the penalty is far too harsh in his circumstances.

OzeHiker didn't present the case very well. There are several points, beside the 'first time offender' logic that are in fact far more compelling.

1. He was virtually driven to do this to save his brother from a very bad debt. Sob story, I know..
2. He was caught in transit. He was not in fact smuggling drugs into or out of Singapore. I don't know about you, but if I were fined $1000 in transit at Singapore airport for chewing gum, that would seem kind of strange no? In other countries with similarly strict regulation (Malaysia, Thailand), they have been known to take this into account. ...

In my opinion, transit or not, he's in Singapore soil. Can a person who committed a serious crime, say murder, get away with the mandatory death sentence simply because he is in transit? No. A crime remains a crime unless he can prove otherwise. In this case, it was obvious that the drugs was his. He broke the law in the country and no matter what his circumstances of committing the crime were, the punishment for drug trafficking is only a mandatory death. This law was passed in the Singapore parliament by the members of parliament, thus have the support of the people. Just like Malaysia, (who also have the same mandatory death sentence for very serious crimes as Singapore does) the Singaporeans did not think it was harsh.

I still remember back in the mid-1980's there was a case where an Australian male was caught with heroin on his body at the Penang airport in Malaysia. He was sentenced to death too. I'm not sure if he was in transit though. The Australian government also tried to intervene but was never entertained by the leaders, and eventually pissed off with our leaders. I'm not sure about Australia, but in Malaysia, nobody is above the law, not even our King! So what makes the Australians so special?

3. The Singaporean system is one of mandatory death sentence. It means that regardless of your circumstances, you are effectively screwed if you are found with drugs on you. So no matter how those drugs ended up on him, he must die under their law.

Not exactly, if you could prove that the drugs do not belong to you, which in this case of Nguyen Tuong Van, is impossible. Strapped to his body? No way the drugs was not his.

13. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 11y

This guy's clearly been warned.

Smuggling drugs through or into a country makes no difference to me. It just means the people at the source and destination either weren't dilligent enough or didn't the chance to catch the guy.

I don't see how it's wrong or harsh to kill an obvious drug smuggler, and it would be right to let people like him destroy other lives.

Once a crime is committed the law has failed. You can't unkill someone, or unsteal something. Harsh laws are there to prevent crime. I do agree that grey areas exist and a more realistic way would be to have a full trial before enforcing such a serious law. But I think even a trial will show this guy was guilty.

14. Posted by Q' (Travel Guru 1987 posts) 11y

Quoting Hien

Strapped to his body? No way the drugs was not his.

Sometimes the press exadurates or mis-quotes things.

15. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 11y

Quoting Q_Zhang

This guy's clearly been warned. ...

Yes, all flights going in to Singapore and many other Asian countries will carry an announcement of the capital punishment for drug trafficking offence.

... Once a crime is committed the law has failed. You can't unkill someone, or unsteal something. Harsh laws are there to prevent crime. I do agree that grey areas exist and a more realistic way would be to have a full trial before enforcing such a serious law. But I think even a trial will show this guy was guilty.

He was tried in the court and found guilty of drug trafficking.

Quoting Q_Zhang

Quoting Hien

Strapped to his body? No way the drugs was not his.

Sometimes the press exadurates or mis-quotes things.

This info was obtained from an article by an editorial consultant in Australia, which was published in a local newspaper in Malaysia.

16. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 11y

Quoting Q_Zhang

I do agree that grey areas exist and a more realistic way would be to have a full trial before enforcing such a serious law. But I think even a trial will show this guy was guilty.

In the explanation I received from Hien, there was a full trial. But, unlike the US and Canada (and many other countries), they no longer have "trial by jury". Jury trials were abolished many years ago. Given that information, the "mandatory" sentences for particular crimes has it's place. Whether we agree with that system or not, Singapore does.

In almost every criminal case there will be gray areas. It is up to the legal system and the defense attorneys to sort it out. That is their job. Whether they do that job well... That's another story. Special treatment from any court just because you are not a citizen of the country where your arrest took place - that's asking a lot.

I understand that this person was trying to help a family member. And, being young, may not have been able to see any other way to fix the problem. But, it does not take a rocket scientist to know that herione is illegal. We don't know what was going through his mind, but I'm willing to bet that rational thought was over-powered by the need to help his family. He happened to pick the wrong commerce as the tool. That does not make him innocent, nor worthy of special consideration. He has gone through the Singapore court system. They have found him guilty. He will suffer the consequences of his actions - and his family will be the ones who pay the ultimate price - the loss of their son.

17. Posted by Brendan (Respected Member 1824 posts) 11y

For one thing, boycotting tourism to Singapore isn't going to do much, Singapore makes most of their money through shipping.

As far as the death penalty - I fully understand the argument that you are subject to the laws of where you are at the time. It makes sense and makes things easy, clean cut, black and white.

But I think we move beyond that. And I by that I mean, capital punishment. Using death as a deterent is a powerful one, but to what end? It is similar to using nuclear weapons as a deterant - at some point you are going to use them and will that actaully make things better?

According to Amnesty International, more than three countries a year on average have abolished the death penalty in law since 1976 or have gone from abolishing it for ordinary crimes to abolishing it for all crimes. Seventy-five countries and territories, including Australia, Germany, Canada, and Spain, refuse to impose the death penalty for any crime.

Of the countries that still permit the death penalty, only five use lethal injection, the most common method of execution in the United States. Seventy-three of those countries use firing squads, 58 hang condemned criminals, six stone them, and three use beheading (Congo, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates).

Internationally, the non-profit group Moratorium 2000 presented UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with a petition for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty last December. The petition had more than 3.2 million signatures from 146 countries.

Annan took the opportunity to predict what he thinks the future holds for capital punishment around the world.

"The forfeiture of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by legal process. And I believe that future generations, throughout the world, will come to agree."

18. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 11y

Quoting Isadora

... Special treatment from any court just because you are not a citizen of the country where your arrest took place - that's asking a lot. ...

From what I know, that is NOT even possible at all. The judge would be acting beyond his powers and against the law if he did not sentence according to the law.

And for the Singapore government give in to Australia's requests to intervene with the judiciary process, it is again going against the laws of Singapore too.

19. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 11y

Quoting Hien

Quoting Q_Zhang

... Once a crime is committed the law has failed. You can't unkill someone, or unsteal something. Harsh laws are there to prevent crime. I do agree that grey areas exist and a more realistic way would be to have a full trial before enforcing such a serious law. But I think even a trial will show this guy was guilty.

He was tried in the court and found guilty of drug trafficking.

Quoting Q_Zhang

Quoting Hien

Strapped to his body? No way the drugs was not his.

Sometimes the press exadurates or mis-quotes things.

This info was obtained from an article by an editorial consultant in Australia, which was published in a local newspaper in Malaysia.

Arrest

On December 12, 2002 Nguyen was on his first trip overseas from Australia since immigration from Thailand as a child. After a flight from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, he was in transit at Singapore Changi Airport awaiting a connecting flight to Melbourne, Australia. When attempting to board his connecting flight his metal-rimmed sunglasses triggered a metal detector and two packets of heroin from Cambodia were found, one strapped to his body and another inside his hand luggage.

Trials

Police alleged that Nguyen was in possession of 396.2 grams of heroin, more than 25 times the amount of 15 grams that mandates a death sentence under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The Singaporean High Court sentenced Nguyen to death for this crime on March 20, 2004.

Throughout his trial, Nguyen claimed that he was only carrying the drugs in a bid to pay off debts owed by his twin brother, Khoa (a former heroin addict), who had borrowed around AU$25,000 to help defend himself against drugs and violent offences charges three years previously.

Nguyen had no previous criminal record. In his police statement, he admitted that he knew he was transporting heroin but added that he had feared for the safety of his family and that prevented him from backing away from the assignment.

While in Cambodia to collect the drugs he met the suppliers and confessed to smoking heroin with them twice - although he says this was under duress from his heroin supplier.

Since his conviction, he has been held on death row in Changi Prison.

An appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed on October 20, 2004.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nguyen_Tuong_Van

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