Why the Death Penalty is Here to Stay For Some Time


The news reported today that Indian national and shipyard worker Bijukumar Remadevi Nair Gopinathan was sentenced to death for the murder of Filipino prostitute Roselyn Reyes Pascua. He stabbed her 10 times in the torso. Once in the neck. Twice in the genitals. Thirteen stabs altogether. What kind of rage and pervertion is summoned in stabbing another person’s genitals? With this sort of henious murder, the seduction of capital punishment for the murderer, no matter that it cannot bring back the victim from the dead, is hard to resist.

This murder by a foreign worker, of another foreign worker in the vice industry, the anti-death penalty campaigners would likely look away and not take up the cause of Bijukumar Remadevi Nair Gopinathan.  Such groups are against the death penalty, but they are picky on who they want to save from the death penalty. They know this is a lost cause. Murderer is a foreigner. Who cares. Victim is a foreigner. Who cares. Crime is violent and fatal. Until local anti-death penalty groups dare to defend murderers, kidnappers and others sentenced the death penalty, they would never take off in Singapore and be mocked for their hypocrisy.

Justice is retributive, rehabilitative or restorative. Retributive justice is common all over the world and some attempt at rehabilitation is mainly reserved for juvenile crimes as there is belief that youth should be given a second chance, or at least not the gallows. Even then as the youth of today become more precocious, the youth cannot escape the death penalty eventually in some cases.

Although we are a decade into the 21st century, the idea of an eye for an eye and a life for a life is still acceptable in Singapore society. It was not an election issue and that is a good enough indicator that it is not a significant item on our table. The only way to push back those for the death penalty is the practical argument of intractability. However, death penalty campaigners instead attempt to appeal to ideals of rights and decency. What about the rights of the murdered – the anti-death penalty groups cannot ever answer that properly enough.

The anecdotal reality is that Singapore society is still generally uncertain of how humane they want to treat their maids. Leaving aside the vicious cycle argument of malicious maids and mean employers, some maids are overworked, physically abused. If Singaporeans do not even care about the “humane” treatment of maids, why would they care about the lives of those sentenced with the death penalty?

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One response

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 23 Mar 2012 « The Singapore Daily

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