Reuters) - Singapore's deputy prime minister on Monday said the country plans to ease its mandatory death penalty in some drug and murder cases but not abolish the ultimate punishment that human rights groups condemn as barbaric.
The wealthy Southeast Asian city-state, which has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drugs and imposes long jail terms on convicted users, has hanged hundreds of people - including dozens of foreigners - for narcotics offences in the last two decades, Amnesty International and other groups say.
That approach prompted science fiction writer William Gibson to describe Singapore as "Disneyland with the death penalty".
Singapore Plans to Exempt More Criminals From Death Penalty
Singapore, which imposes the death penalty for serious crimes including murder and drug trafficking, said it plans to exempt more cases from the mandatory sentence.
While the nation will uphold the death penalty for those who manufacture and traffic drugs, the punishment will no longer be mandatory for all those caught carrying drugs exceeding certain amounts, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in parliament today. Courts will have the discretion to either sentence the offender to death or life imprisonment with caning if the accused is only a courier and has cooperated with authorities or has a mental disability, he said.
“These provisions retain the strong deterrence posture of our capital punishment regime while providing for a more calibrated sentencing framework when specific conditions are met,” Teo said. The proposed changes will provide a framework for accused persons to assist the state in targeting those who play “a more significant role in drug syndicates,” he said.
Mandatory death penalty to be eased conditionally: DPM Teo
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that the law will be changed so courts will have discretion to sentence some people convicted of drug-related and murder offences to the lighter penalty of life imprisonment …more with caning. (Yahoo! file photo)
More flexibility will be given to Singapore courts when it comes to the sentencing of some crimes that carry a mandatory death penalty.
In a parliamentary sitting on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said that the law will be changed so courts will have discretion to sentence some people convicted of drug-related and murder offences to the lighter penalty of life imprisonment with caning.
Teo maintained that all trafficking and manufacturing crimes will still be given the mandatory death penalty for kingpins and organisers of syndicates.
Death penalty will remain integral to justice system
But Govt intends that capital punishment only be meted out when there is intention to kill
As the Republic becomes "safer, less violent, and more mature", in the words of Law and Foreign Minister K Shanmugam, it can take the step of refining the death penalty regime for murder cases.
"This is a matter of judgment and the approach being taken is not without risks. But we believe this is a step we can take," Mr Shanmugam told the House yesterday.
He noted that Singapore now has a "relatively low" incidence of homicides - last year, 16 homicides were recorded, or a rate of about 0.3 per 100,000 people.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS BY THE:
- DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: “ENHANCING OUR DRUG CONTROL FRAMEWORK AND REVIEW OF THE DEATH PENALTY”
- MINISTER FOR LAW: “CHANGES TO THE APPLICATIONS OF THE MANDATORY DEATH PENALTY TO HOMICIDE OFFENCES”
1. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs spoke on enhancing Singapore’s drug control framework and review of the death penalty in Parliament on 9 July 2012. The following are the key points that DPM made:
a. We have long taken strict and tough measures to curb the menace of illegal drugs. Drug abuse affects not only the addicts, but also their families and loved ones. The human cost to individuals and society is very high. Those who trade in illegal drugs are still attracted by the huge financial gains to be made, and deterring them requires the strictest enforcement coupled with the severest of penalties.
Immigration Bill against marriages of convenience
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday introduced a Bill in Parliament to amend the Immigration Act.
Among the proposed changes, the ministry wants to criminalise marriages of convenience and introduce a good conduct condition for permanent residents (PRs).
The Immigration Act, last amended in 2004, regulates immigration facilities as well as the entry, stay and exit of all foreigners.
‘Good conduct’ law to be introduced for S’pore PRs
A new “good conduct” condition for Permanent Residents (PRs) in Singapore will be introduced if proposed amendments to the Immigration Act are approved.
According to a Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) statement, the good conduct condition for PRs allows the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to cancel the PR’s re-entry permit (PER) if he “contravenes any law” or is “involved in any activity which threatens a breach of peace or is prejudicial to public order”.
If the PR travels out of Singapore or remains outside of Singapore without a valid REP, he will lose his PR status.
Singapore GDP likely slowed in Q2, possible contraction
Singapore s economy probably slowed and may even have contracted sequentially during the second quarter of 2012 amid lacklustre performance by manufacturers and weakness in the financial sector.
According to a Reuters poll of 11 economists advance estimates this Friday will likely show Singapore s GDP grew by just 0 3 percent in April-June on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted and annualised rate SAAR slowing sharply from the first quarter s 10 per cent pace.
Five of the 11 economists who provided quarter-on-quarter gross domestic product estimates predicted a sequential contraction in the second quarter
"No immediate need" for measures to cushion S'pore economy
There is no immediate need for the government to step in with measures to cushion the Singapore economy from the slowdown in external demand.
This is even though the ongoing debt crisis in Europe remains worrying.
Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said in Parliament on Monday that Singapore's exports have been affected by the slowdown in major economies like the US and China.
Singapore aims to keep local problem gamblers out of casinos
Singapore could limit how many times problem gamblers visit its casinos under proposed legislation on Monday, bowing to pressure to contain a rise in gambling addiction in the wealthy city-state just two years after opening two casino resorts.
Singaporeans and permanent residents who visit casinos more than five times a month may need to show proof they are not in financial distress or face restrictions, acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing told the Straits Times newspaper.
"We want to protect vulnerable groups from the potential harm of casino gambling," the government said in a note accompanying the proposed amendments to Singapore's Casino Control Act put on a government website for public comment.
S’pore diplomats ‘observed boundaries of M’sian law’: Shanmugam
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, stressed that Singapore's diplomats ‘observed boundaries of M’sian law’. (AP file photo)
Singapore did not interfere in Malaysia’s political affairs during a rally for electoral reform in Kuala Lumpur, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said.
Shanmugam stressed that Singapore diplomats were there as impartial observers and were not wearing yellow shirts, the uniform of the rally participants.
“They were strictly neutral and observed the boundaries of Malaysian law," he said.
S$1.1b bus services scheme not for operators’ profit: Lui Tuck Yew
SINGAPORE: Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew on Monday said the implementation details of the S$1.1 billion Bus Services Enhancement Programme (BSEP) to ramp up bus capacity over the next five years have largely been sorted out.
He said this in Parliament, as he proposed the necessary amendments to give the Land Transport Authority (LTA) powers to roll out the programme, in a second reading of the amendment bill.
Under the proposed amendments, LTA will be given a new function to implement programmes, such as the BSEP improve public bus services provided by the public transport operators (PTOs) and other bus operators licensed by the Public Transport Council (PTC).
This includes giving LTA the powers to coordinate the routes and scheduling of bus services provided by the operators.
Chan Chun Sing on CHC scandal: Not always possible for governance review to detect fraud
The inquiry on CHC was not triggered by the governance review in 2008 but by information from whistleblowers made to the COC in early 2010. (Yahoo! file photo)
It’s not always possible for governance reviews to detect signs of mismanagement or fraud, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament on Monday.
And it is for this reason audits, inquiries and investigations such as the one commenced by the Commissioner of Charities (COC) on City Harvest Church (CHC) in 2010 are “more specific, intrusive and in-depth”.
Chan was responding to a question by nominated MP Laurence Lien who asked why the COC’s review of the megachurch in 2008, along with six other large charities, had not uncovered the lack of compliance with regulations.
Man jailed, caned for attacking neighbour's wife with samurai sword
Ex-MOE scholar sentenced to five years' jail
Former Ministry of Education (MOE) scholar Jonathan Wong Wai Keong has been sentenced to five years' jail on Monday for having sex with a minor, The Straits Times reported on Monday.
Wong, who was convicted for possession of child pornography in Britain in 2010, had faced a total of 10 charges – seven for having sex with a 15-year-old girl, and another three for committing indecent acts. He pleaded guilty to five of 10 charges on 25 June.
Wong had committed the acts after his return from Britain, following his expulsion from school and revocation of his student visa. He returned to Singapore in January 2011 after an eight-month supervision for his child pornography charges, said Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao.