General Question

clarice's avatar

Do you believe in the effectiveness of capital punishment?

Asked by clarice (244points) January 28th, 2010

In Singapore mandatory capital punishment is carried out for any person found in possession of more than the following quantities of drugs. Opium: 100 g, containing more than 3 g of morphine
Any controlled drug (except opium): containing more than 3 g of morphine
Diamorphine (Heroin): 2 g
Morphine: 3 g
Cocaine: 3 g
Cannabis: 15 g
Cannabis mixture: 30 g
Hashish: 10 g
Methamphetamine: 25 g

Do you think this is too harsh a punishment?

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77 Answers

reacting_acid's avatar

Not really. Drug traficking and abusing is a problem all over the world. It has destroyed countless lives and it has to be stopped.

TheJoker's avatar

Personally I think they are extreme, let alone harsh. I am fully persuaded by the English position that capital punishment is entirely ineffective as a deterrent to crime. Every serious piece of evidence I’ve read, seen, & heard about confirms that societies where capital punishment is practised are equally crime afflicted to those without. & that the main thing that deters prospective criminals is an increased likelihood of being caught. I can understand why some societies might choose it as a punishment for some crimes, but I don’t think drug offences should be included.

Shield_of_Achilles's avatar


Who would do bad stuff if there was one of those in front of every courthouse? No one wants to be slaughtered like that.

HTDC's avatar

Taking someone’s life away for being caught with a few grams of drugs for personal use? Yeah, I’d say that’s more than a little harsh.

Scooby's avatar

Personally, as a deterrent NO! there will always be someone desperate enough to risk it…..
But the effectiveness of a Booming trade on the Global black market in human organs & tissues, then just maybe!! :-/

loser's avatar

I think killing is wrong.

lilikoi's avatar

Wow, now I know where I shouldn’t volunteer to traffic drugs to…sheesh! Death for possession of plants! That is pretty lame.

The punishment should match the crime.
That is, death begets death. Possession of plants really shouldn’t even be punished. Simply possessing a plant is certainly harmless so matching that with a death penalty is assuming that a person in possession of such plants will commit a crime that warrants the death penalty in the future. You are essentially punishing people for crimes that were never committed. Kind of like Minority Report.

If you are going to play God and kill another person, you had better be damn well certain that you got the right guy.
In the real world, people are framed, evidence is collected poorly, there is a minute chance that DNA evidence is wrong, you can convict someone of murder without a body, juries are sometimes subjective and/or do not have a sound understanding of the law, people lie and can be very corrupt, etc etc etc. In short, there is a lot of room for error, and we don’t always get it right.

I am in favor of the death penalty in a few cut and dry cases, that may or may not exist in the real world
where there is a 0% chance that the guy is innocent, and is not mentally ill, nor was not under the influence of mind distorting drugs (this sympathy only because I’ve read stories about how children with tough beginnings often end up as drug addicts, and it really isn’t their fault in some situations).

I do believe that in Eden the death penalty would work. Then again, if we were in Eden we wouldn’t have much of a need for it, would we.

lilikoi's avatar

@Shield_of_Achilles But, I don’t wanna live in a police state…...

oratio's avatar

I think that thousands of years of capital punishment shows anyone that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work anywhere, in any time. Capital punishment don’t belong in a civilized society. It doesn’t say anything about the crime, but a lot about the society that practice it.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Not at all. Capital punishment is barbaric, immoral and ineffective.

Factotum's avatar

@lilikoi My feelings are very much in line with yours.

I’m not a fan of killing people – even criminals – but I will point out that archival data shows that well over 97% of criminals who are executed stop committing crimes altogether.

reacting_acid's avatar

It is true that it hasn’t totally erased crime, but it sure as hell stopped it from being worse than it could have been.
@Factotum Is it bad that I laughed when I read that?

Zuma's avatar

No, capital punishment only seems to increase the behaviors it is invoked to deter.

Perhaps the best documented case (other than our own) is England during the rein of Henry VIII. There, the penalty for nearly every crime—even pinching a loaf of bread—was death by hanging. Even children were sent to the gallows for petty theft. It had absolutely no deterrent effect on crime. In fact, it had the opposite effect. It made people even bolder, as the saying, “Might as well get hung for a sheep as a lamb.” attests. In fact, the rate at which people were put to death was roughly the same as the rate we incarcerate people (i.e., about 1 per 100) population.

To propose using the death penalty more shows an intellectual and spiritual disconnect from reality. We are already the most punitive society on earth by a large margin, and our crime rates are no different than other industrialized democracies. We have about 6% of the world’s population and between 26% and 30% of the world’s prisoners. We are one of only 6 countries that puts children to death, and we are the only country in the world that sends children to prison for life without possibility of parole. In fact, we actually execute more children than all other countries combined.

All these brutal measures succeed in doing is cheapening life and creating a more vengeful and brute force oriented society overall. It’s not for nothing that death penalty states like Texas have higher rates of murder and violent crime than states which have outlawed the death penalty. Harming people who harm people in order to show them that harming people is wrong is fundamentally flawed as an idea.

When you throw someone in prison, it only pisses them off and makes them worse. Once you’ve been to prison, no matter how bad it is, you are no longer scared of it—and once you’re no longer scared of prison, you’re going to keep on doing what you want to do, and nothing is going to stop you. Once you reach a certain level of horribleness, making things even more horrible doesn’t even register. It only makes them more likely to slit your throat to keep you from testifying against them.

Bring back the guillotine and you could very well find yourself the next person thrown under it. All you need is one pissed off wife or girlfriend to turn you in.

oratio's avatar

@Factotum 60 % of all statistical claims are made up on the spot.

The_Idler's avatar

As a worldwide solution it would be horrifically counter-productive,
but on a local scale, in the case of Singapore, I think it is entirely reasonable.

If you don’t like the way Singaporean society works, DON’T GO THERE.

It is as simple as that. If you want to do drugs and graffiti, don’t fucking go to Singapore.
It’s a tiny city-state, no-one is forced to live or go there, which is why they can have whatever kind of society they like!

Now, not only do I think criminalization of drugs is absurd, I also very much enjoy myself a bit of ganja and opium every now and then, but I promise to all of you that, if I went to Singapore (extremely likely, I will probably be taking an exchange year there, as part of my degree programme), I would be 100% straight edge and happy about it. I think Singapore is a special case, because everyone has the choice to participate, or not, and it’s an instance of play by the rules, or don’t play at all…

clarice's avatar

@The_Idler And be sure to ring me up or drop me a message when you’re here! Haha I’m majoring in Theatre Studies at NUS.

Capital punishment has just been one of the strongest deterrents in our Singaporean society. The fear of death is apparently sufficient enough for youth today to succumb to the rules and policies set by the government and give up some fragment of our freedom. (I’ve never used drugs and don’t think there’s an incentive for me to and I can see why societies would want to keep it that way.) Singapore cannot afford a welfare system and less so the housing, clothing and feeding a convicted person for the rest of their life.

12_func_multi_tool's avatar

I want to be all noble about this as reject the taking of a life no matter what, but in extreme and immediate situations. What I know about the prison system here in the US from secondhand knowledge is that in the worst cases creates animals and makes animals even more viscous. I cannot ask anyone to do what I could not. Could I throw the switch? I’ve learned, despite heavy influence of developing empathy and compassion, there is a time when you just give up, it is so sad. Yes it is effective (Cap. Pun.) if only to erase a mistake of nature. I hate the broad brush stroke, but I’m not the judge, I don’t have the authority or stature, that is not my job.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I believe in the finality of capital punishment. When you’re dead, there’s not much left after that. Although a death sentence for drug offenses does sound very harsh, you would think with a penalty like that, it would seriously deter criminals from engaging in that type of activity and/or reduce the amount of those types of offenses. I wonder if a sentence as harsh as this, imposed in America, would have any significant impact on the drug trade here in the United States.

If memory serves me correctly, I believe they also hand down capital punishment decisions for drug offenses in Indonesia also.

oratio's avatar

@Bluefreedom True. They are not very forgiving in any of the countries of south east Asia. But the again, China use capital punishment for tax fraud too.

Cruiser's avatar

The punishment has to fit the crime. I am against capital punishment and ending their life then and now is letting them off too easy….I would rather know the scum is rotting in a cold cell for the rest of their life…never to see the light of day and never harming anyone ever again.

The_Idler's avatar

@Cruiser hah, you’re funny, I’d agree for someone like a child rapist (actually I would have them lynched by the community), but for most things, lifelong incarceration is a stupid waste of money.

HTDC's avatar

@Cruiser Making a “scum” rot in a cold cell for the rest of their life for carrying a few grams of drugs…wow, really? I can’t possibly imagine what you think the punishment for a murderer or rapist should be…

Cruiser's avatar

@HTDC I first said “the punishment should fit the crime” and probably should have been clearer in that I was referring to the “heinous” crimes…. the mass murder, brutal rapists, child predator type of heinous crimes and not the drug bust referred to in the question. Sorry for the confusion.

HTDC's avatar

@Cruiser Oh okay, thanks for clarifying.

whitenoise's avatar

I believe that the death penalty is effectively stopping someone from ever commiting a crime. It is, however, fully against my ethical code to take a life as punishment. So much, that I can under no circumstance condone it. I don not wish to be turned into a killer or murderer and that is what this penalty does. After all the state represents all citizens – including me – when it carries out the verdict.

Capital punishment is also very inefficient, given the costs from the extra necessary legal safeguards in order to prevent (if such is possible) innocents from being convicted.

As a deterrent, I don’t think it does much to most potential criminals, especially not to those that have already crossed the line and realize they have nothing left to loose. In my opinion, crimes are, in general, either committed in rage, in madness or under the premiss of not getting caught.

In short: I am 100% against the death penalty, not so much disputing its effectiveness, but rather disputing what it turns me into and convinced that there are alternatives equally or more effective and certainly more efficient.

Snarp's avatar

I’m quite certain the death penalty is not effective in preventing crime at all. I think it is is morally wrong as a punishment for any crime when life without parole exists as an option to maintain public safety from a particular individual. As to the specific issue of drugs, well Singapore is a regressive police state and this is only one of the absurd laws and inappropriate penalties there. Killing someone for 15 grams (half an ounce) of pot? A drug that is less harmful to health and society than alcohol or nicotine? Why not just kill everyone who breaks any law? It would make about as much sense.

raoool's avatar

I think capital punishment can be an effective deterrent but – as others here have stated – punishment should fit the crime. Drug possession does not warrant death; but maybe law enforcement should force immediate ‘consumption’ of said substances by the possesor upon being caught. Seems to me that would streamline a process on which we waste an inordinate amount of resources; affect immediate disposal of the substance in question and ultimately encourage appropriate (IMHO) moderate use.

Snarp's avatar

@raoool Or cause horrible, torturous death by overdose in the street.

raoool's avatar

@Snarp yes, I believe capital punishment can be an effective deterrent ;)

belakyre's avatar

Personally, I think hitting people never solves problems…it only delays them.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I am torn about the whole Capital Punishment thing. I think, for the most part, I disagree with it but that opinion would probably change if a loved one of mine was brutally murdered. However, for the crimes you mentioned above, yes I do think that Capital Punishment is far to extreme but I can’t claim to know what an ulterior punishment should be.

Snarp's avatar

The punishment for possession of 15 grams of marijuana should be the officer saying: “sorry to bother you, have a nice day”.

wundayatta's avatar

That punishment is completely out of line and absurd. First of all, capital punishment is merely punishment. It has nothing to do with deterrence, so don’t swallow that line of bull. It just shows how violent a society is (in the US, as well as Singapore or South Africa).

Second, dealing and using drugs is not the evil people say it is. There are addictive people in society and there are those who aren’t. If people are addictive, they’ll find a substance or behavior to abuse. If not, they will behave in what is considered a more responsible way.

This is so wrong, I can’t even begin to explain it. Which is one reason people think I’m a jackass. They go by conventional wisdom or so-called “common” sense. Do we really want to live in a society governed by common people? Ahhhh. Stupid rhetorical question.

oratio's avatar

@wundayatta I agree, majority rule and minority rights is not a light issue. This is in stark contrast to the policy in e.g. Portugal where it’s decriminalized.

Snarp's avatar

@wundayatta That reminds me of claims during the campaign that Obama (and other Democrats) are “elitist”. I think it was Jon Stewart who said something along the lines of Damn right! I hope their elitist. I hope the person who wants to be the most powerful person on earth thinks they’re better than everyone else, and I hope they’re right!

clarice's avatar

@wundayatta Are you saying that Singapore is a violent society due to its stand on capital punishment?
I believe that the death sentence actually makes society very aware of the stringent standards of the police and government and thus criminal statistics are considered pretty low.

But of course, as I quote the Singapore Police Force: ‘Low Crime Doesn’t Mean No Crime.’

It might not be ethically just or morally right but if it works as a great deterrant or it works for the good of the government/ good for future of the nation (less taxpayers’ money spent on prisons and convicts’ welfare/upkeeping, less land needed for prisons etc) then it’s considered a good solution.
Doesn’t matter if I am for or against capital punishment because as far I can tell, it’s going to be here to stay for a really long while.

wundayatta's avatar

@clarice I don’t know if this assumption is warranted or not, but I’m assuming the penalty wasn’t imposed for nothing. There must have been a lot going on if that penalty was resorted to.

The other thing is that I’ll bet you have no data to prove that the death penalty is what reduced the crime. It could well be other things that your society is doing.

clarice's avatar

@wundayatta Yep agreed that there could be other factors involved. But mostly it is the enforcement of rules through punishment.

Something I found from

“In relation to how many people are in Singapore, how many people visit Singapore, the numbers of crime are very small. Singapore has the fourth best economy in the world. Most of its economical standings are greater than those of the U.S. Singapore has a 98% literacy rate. Singapore has twelve times the population of Vancouver, but half the crime rate. This country has the strictest laws in the world. There are many different civic violations. 90% of crimes committed the offender is captured and punished.

“Singapore has the largest amount of hangings, although only one westerner has qualified for this punishment. Drug trafficking is a capital crime, where 70% of executions are drug violations. Singapore has laws against chewing gum because it also has law against littering, where the punishments can be severe. Because of these laws, Singapore is considerably clean. Pblic gatherings are prohibited, rioters are executed. People Residing in Singapore generally enjoy its peacefulness and tranquility, which are due to its strict laws and law enforcements, it seems people love to feel safe (“Soltani”).

“Laws are made to prevent crimes. Punishments are made to enforce laws, Some punishments are even the death sentence. Capital punishment can be an effective and threatening way to reduce crime; however, people still have their reserves about it.”

Snarp's avatar

I for one will take a little litter and mess if it means people can gather in public. I’ll even take a few riots if it means those people gathered in public can speak out against the government.

clarice's avatar

@Snarp People have tried. We have a Speakers’ Corner but normal citizens don’t really give a sh*t about people speaking there cause there’s a mentality to want to be safe and not infringing on the laws and basically not get into trouble.

Google or Youtube Dr. Chee Soon Juan, he’s tried repeatedly to go against the Lee family and the PAP and he’s been declared a bankrupt now. He’s just one of the many fallen.

Zuma's avatar

@clarice What? Your country devotes a whole corner to democratic dissent?! No doubt this is so they can take down the names of “troublemakers” to be watched and caught up with later for chewing gum, or another of your bogus authoritarian laws. The whole point of autocratic, disciplinarian governments meting out the death penalty is to terrorize the population into political apathy. So, no doubt, the death penalty is “effective” in that regard. But it’s nothing to be proud of, at all. It is certainly nothing to recommend to us!

Who would want to live in such an Orwellian country, where cameras are watching you every minute, and where the government is poised to come down on you hard for any little misstep? The more you describe it, the more disgust and pity I feel that you could take pride in living in such a stifling society.

YARNLADY's avatar

What I believe about capital punishment and about drug laws are two different things.

I believe if a person commits a violent crime against another person he should be put to death, but I believe that drug laws are used incorrectly. Drugs should be freely prescribed by a doctor or licensed agency under a doctor’s care and supervision.

The_Idler's avatar

@Zuma Speaker’s Corner is a reference to the legacy of British administration. There is a historical place in Hyde Park, “Speaker’s Corner”, which was a symbol of British liberalism and freedom of speech, at the time we were “Land of the Free”.

And look, if you do not want to live in Singapore, don’t go there. That is what is so great about their system. Not only do they have effective deterrents, their society is structured in a way that makes internal opposition almost impossible.
You may think this sounds bad, but you have to realise that the people of Singapore do not want drug dealers and petty thieves in their society.

You say it is a restriction of freedom, but you have to realise: the people who don’t like it have the freedom to fuck right off, and go somewhere they can rob people and do drugs.

For every Singaporean, who laments their lack of freedom to rob people and do drugs, there are 50, who thank the party for constructing one of the safest societies on Earth.

Singapore is pretty much the least violent society.

The death penalty is brutal when served to victims of circumstance; in Singapore there is no such thing.

If you don’t like what they do, the Singaporean government will kindly advise you to fuck off to some poorly-policed nearby country, and have a shit life, because Singapore is the only city for a thousand miles with decent infrastructure and law enforcement.

If you want to complain, sell drugs or do graffiti, don’t go to Singapore.
If you want to live in one of the safest and most well-developed cities on Earth, do go to Singapore.

filmfann's avatar

That is very harsh, but I gotta say it’s their country, and you gotta follow their rules.
People who smuggle drugs in those countries are idiots.

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah, I mean, it’s something like the 10th smallest nation on Earth, it’s not like people end up in Singapore by accident!

Zuma's avatar

@The_Idler “their society is structured in a way that makes internal opposition almost impossible”

Who the fuck would want to live in—or even visit—a fucked up autocratic, anti-democratic prison of a country like Singapore? In case I haven’t made myself clear, I have no intention of going there, and I feel nothing but disgust for a place that prides itself on terrorizing its citizens into abject obedience. Moreover, I feel outright contempt for anyone who would hold out Singapore—the very embodiment of a carceral state—as a model for the rest of the world. Enjoy your high-tech, totalitarian, murdering anthill of a society!

By the way, the only societies where people rob for drugs are societies in which drugs are illegal.

The_Idler's avatar

“Who the fuck would want to live in… ...Singapore?”
Singapore has the highest Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI) in the world.

Now I would never hold out Singapore as a model for the world, like I said, the Singaporean system only works because of Singapore’s singular circumstance.

If you do not want to do drugs, or otherwise disrupt Singaporean society, it is the ideal city.
Like I said, many people DO want this system, and DO want to live there, and those that DON’T want to play by the rules can simply leave.

It works in this circumstance, because people always have that choice. It is all about participation. This is why Singapore is not a prison.

It is a private club, with strict rules. If you don’t like them, leave, but remember that without them, Singapore wouldn’t be what it is today, the rich and prestigious Jewel of the Orient.

oratio's avatar

@The_Idler One can say the same thing about any authoritarian country. If you don’t like it leave.

Singapore can rightfully be admired for many things; strong education, strong industry and strong health care with a significant longer life expectancy and child mortality than the US. But being rich don’t make it right. Singapore’s penal system is medieval as many ASEAN countries are, and is at the bottom part of the freedom of press index. But the same thing can be said about the US. Did you know that the most people that get raped in the US are not women? They are men in american correctional facilities. This is not the case in most western countries, save the US. It seems as if in America it’s not being seen as a problem that one puts a bad person into the prison, and releases a beaten emotional monster.

One can have different opinions about the Singaporean litter laws with fines of $5000, the chewing gum ban and amazing jaywalking fines. In London there are hefty fines for smoking on the bus. If I remember correctly one can be fined up till £1000.

I don’t see that the country of Singapore is where it is today thanks to harsh and pseudo-democratic practices, but by being industrious. Now, Singapore is hardly the worst country in the world, but it’s important to give criticism where it’s due. That’s an important aspect of freedom and protection of fundamental rights. Even a free country deserves criticism. I don’t see why Singapore should get a pass.

Zuma's avatar

@The_Idler “Singapore is not a prison.”

The chewing, sale, or importation of gum is prohibited.
Spitting on the sidewalk is prohibited.
Feeding pigeons or monkeys is prohibited.
Satellite dishes are prohibited.
Malaysian newspapers and publications by the Jehovah’s Witnesses are prohibited.
Photographing public buildings is prohibited.
Homosexuals are not allowed to live in the country.
Homosexual acts between men, or even overt displays of affection, including kissing, are illegal in Singapore and penalties include imprisonment.
Oral sex is illegal unless it is used as a form of foreplay.
Pornography is illegal.
Prostitution is illegal.
All entertainment media including movies and video games must be sent to the Board of Censors for approval before they can be brought in.
As it is considered pornographic, you may not walk around your home nude.
Failure to flush a public toilet after use may result in very hefty fines.
Cigarettes and other tobacco products are illegal; anyone caught with them is fined $500 per pack.
It is illegal to jaywalk or come within 50 meters of a pedestrian crossing marker on any street.
Behaving “inappropriately” towards women, using language knowing it to be likely to “outrage the modesty” of that person, including singing offensive sporting team songs, can result in corporal punishment with a rattan cane and/or imprisonment for up to 2 years.
Unauthorised public demonstrations are illegal in Singapore.
A police permit is required for a gathering of more than four people and anyone breaking those laws is liable to arrest and possible prosecution.
Public demonstrations are permitted only at Speakers’ Corner.
Commercial disputes that may be handled as civil suits in the United States can escalate to criminal cases in Singapore and may result in heavy fines and prison sentences.
Singapore police have the authority to compel both residents and non-residents to submit to random drug analysis and do not distinguish between drugs consumed before or after entering Singapore in applying local laws.

All of these prohibitions, by the way, apply in U.S. prisons, although you are not subject to caning in U.S. prisons.

Singapore is the very embodiment of a carceral state; in other words, it is a society modeled on the idea of a prison.

“In a carceral state, public space is transformed into defendable space, with the installation of walls, gates, fences, surveillance cameras and security checkpoints. Such installations are meant to provide control over urban space. In these spaces, gatherings of strangers to the area are discouraged, and barricades of various forms can prevent people from entering or passing through.”

A carceral state is one that seeks to know everything about its inhabitants and visitors, but hide everything about itself. It is a regimented rule-bound society in which the rights of the individual are subordinated to the rights of the state, and where individuals only have rights granted to them by the state (as opposed to rights being inherent in the individual). The psychological effect of living in an area guarded by cameras, gates, and guards reinforces the idea that the world is dangerous, and that extreme measures—i.e. corporal punishment and capital punishment—are called for to prevent “disruptions” of order and society.

This is reinforced by Singaporean child rearing practices in which parents use a disciplinarian style of parenting characterized by rigid adherence to strict rules, strict and absolute obedience, total control, and harsh corporal punishment. Where this does not produce sullen, rebellious, aggressive children, it tends to produce shy, fearful, socially inept, and repressed children who tend to confuse punishment with intimacy.

Hence, the proliferation of laws criminalizing relatively harmless aspects of life, accompanied by the administration of draconian penalties, is characteristic of a carceral state, insofar as it allows the disciplinarian state to take over where the disciplinarian parent leaves off in preserving the abject subordination of the individual. Like many people in abusive relationships, they are beaten down, they become dependent, and so alienated from their own authentic needs and desires, it simply does not occur to them that they have the option of leaving. And, in a perverse, pathetic way, they even come to love their oppressor, much like the protagonist in Orwell’s “1984”. In this respect, Singapore is very much a prison.

benjaminlevi's avatar

@Zuma As it is considered pornographic, you may not walk around your home nude.

“So, what are you in for?”

Snarp's avatar

Extreme punishment for minor crimes seems to be an effective deterrent in Singapore for a number of reasons. One is that yes, if you are willing to live in a repressive police state you may actually experience a little less crime. The second of course is that Singapore is rich and so are a lot of the people who live there. The third is that Singapore is tiny. It is a very small, culturally uniform, economically successful city-state. Trying to apply the Singapore model to a country like the United States that is large and diverse, culturally and economically, would be a disaster. It would not reduce crime, partly because of the size and diversity themselves, but partly because you could never put enough police on the streets to actually control the United States to that degree. Meanwhile at that point the left wing nuts would actually join forces with the right wing nuts and you would have rebellion, domestic terrorism, and outright civil war.

The_Idler's avatar

“One can say the same thing about any authoritarian country. If you don’t like it leave.”
Except that if you try to leave North Korea, you get shot. Pretty much anywhere else, you have thousands of miles to go to find ‘freedom’.
In Singapore, you can’t get “stuck” there.
It’s like being in an ocean of freedoms, but on the tiny atoll of Singaporean authority. If you don’t like the island for what it is, you really can just take one step, and you’re gone!

“But being rich don’t make it right.”
I’m not saying it is right, I am saying it is extremely effective in this situation.
And being extremely effective makes it rich, which is why so people want to live there.

“I don’t see that the country of Singapore is where it is today thanks to harsh and pseudo-democratic practices, but by being industrious. ”
One thing leads to another. Liberalism and the welfare state have RUINED the UK. I am a supporter of both, but Singapore simply cannot be a welfare state. It doesn’t have to be though, because, in their own way, they have ensured that there are not hordes of unemployed and homeless criminal drug-addicts.

“Now, Singapore is hardly the worst country in the world, but it’s important to give criticism where it’s due. That’s an important aspect of freedom and protection of fundamental rights. Even a free country deserves criticism. I don’t see why Singapore should get a pass.
I would criticise the laws rather than the penal system. I think criminalization of drugs is absurd and I think homosexuality is completely inoffensive (as a private practice), but this is the type of society the sovereign state of Singapore wishes to construct and maintain, and they have done that very well, becoming the only modern city for a thousand miles. I would hate for the whole world to be like it, but that is what is so great about it. Different things work in different circumstances, and that’s the beauty of the nation-state system.

@Snarp Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, and without PAP, internal tensions would’ve ripped the city apart (kinda like how American cities have large areas of lawlessness, decay, vice and destitution).
Also, I wouldn’t describe the effect of the Singaporean system as “a little less crime” and I wouldn’t attribute any of it to disproportionate police presence.

According to Singapore
In 2007, Singapore has 239 police officers per 100,000 people. In Hong Kong, the ratio was 393 to 100,000 and in New York 430 per 100,000.

Yet, Singapore’s crime rate was the lowest among the three cities, at 696 cases per 100,000 population. For Hong Kong, it was 1,167 cases, while for New York, it was 2,432.

Besides that, you are right, it is a unique circumstance, which I think some people do not understand…

@Zuma I know. Some of the laws are ridiculous. You missed some other differences with a US prison, rape and violent crime are not endemic, and at any time you want, you can get on the bus and be gone by sun-down.
Only remember that just outside the prison, with its safety and good food and modern amenities, is the Wild West, where you can be free to scrounge for food and shit in a hole and get shot for a fiver.

For people (this is most people, but intellectuals are generally exceptions) who just want to get on with their work and live their lives in peace and with modern comforts and convenience, Singapore is not even a “trade-off”, it is ideal.

Stop crying about the freedom to criticise Singapore, I agree they have some way to go with their freedom of speech, but all nations go through phases, and The Land of the Free has been at far worse lows, but how about the freedom of Singaporean society to structure itself in an internally and externally effective manner?
How about the freedom to live in the safest and cleanest city on Earth, if you want?

Snarp's avatar

@The_Idler It doesn’t have to be disproportionate if it has extreme powers. So it compares in numbers to other major world cities, that doesn’t surprise me, but those numbers don’t compare to the rest of the United States and could not be maintained across an area that big.

I’ll take you at your word on cultural diversity and assume I am wrong about that.

I expect I am still relatively correct about Singapore’s strong economy playing a major role.

But the major point I was going for is: Singapore is really small. That makes it really different from other countries.

Of course, we are taking Singapore’s word for the crime statistics. Even in the United States criminologists say that crime statistics are highly inaccurate due to selective reporting by police. I’m curious what the rates are on “white collar” crime.

The_Idler's avatar

Almost forgot the freedom from stepping in gum, people spitting at my feet, and being harassed by Jehova’s Witnesses…

@Snarp Oh, of course, this really all comes down to its singular nature, which some people do not seem to understand

Zuma's avatar

So what if it is gleaming, modern and rich surrounded by corruption and squalor? It is still a CARCERAL (prison) state! What an idea, what an ideal! You’re welcome to it!

I’ll take San Francisco (my home town) any day.

Snarp's avatar

@The_Idler There is something about the idea of outlawing Jehova’s Witnesses. . .

The_Idler's avatar

“So what if it is gleaming, modern and rich surrounded by corruption and squalor?”
Well the point is that the immediate alternative is thousands of miles of corruption and squalor.

I shall try Singapore and I shall try San Francisco.

Maybe I will like SF more, but I am glad I have the option to like Singapore, and many people do like Singapore.

The most important point here is that it is an option.
Singapore doesn’t force people to live there, quite the contrary.
Singapore has trouble keeping people OUT.
The corruption and squalor are the gaolers of the rest of the region, while people want to break out of their prison of crime and violence and decay and into the freedom of personal safety and growth, in Singapore.

Can you really call a place a prison, when anyone can leave, and millions of people want in?
Everything is relative. I think you’d find yourself able to do a lot less in the nearby countries.
If SF was transplanted to, say, the border between Thailand and Cambodja, what would happen? It would probably end up worse than Bangkok.

Snarp's avatar

@The_Idler Of course, you can leave if you can afford to. Singapore sounds like a great place to be rich. I wonder what it’s like to be poor there?

The_Idler's avatar

Just like there are no poor Americans running away to have a better life in Jamaica, the poor of Singapore are still far, far better off where they are.

And no-one is too poor to leave.
A bus to Malaysia (the neighbouring country) is S$1.60 (70p).

Snarp's avatar

@The_Idler I’m not sure you understand the way poverty actually works at different scales. If you have nothing, yes you can just go. But suppose you have a family, a job that you hate that pays pennies, and a shanty, shack, or tenement apartment. Suddenly you might like to leave, but you don’t have money to find a new place to live, to support your family while you find a new job. Mobility is about more than bus fare.

The_Idler's avatar

Yes I understand what you are saying. I know it isn’t just about getting up and going.

I, personally, do not know whether the poor of Singapore hate it and want to live in Indonesia or Thailand. I would expect, however, that, as Singapore is far richer and more developed than either, they probably would not.

No matter where they would want to go, their job prospects and living conditions are surely going to be far worse, than in Singapore.
This is why millions of people want to go there.

All I’m saying is it is probably better to be poor in Singapore, than to be poor in any other country nearby, and that “you can leave if you can afford to” can be said about everywhere on Earth, but probably least of all for Singapore!

Snarp's avatar

@The_Idler What Singapore really is is the urban center of Malaysia, but with it’s own government. All over the developing world people are moving to urban centers, it’s an ongoing trend of urbanization that has happened in the developed world too. Most of the worlds people now live in cities. Some of the poor who move to cities for opportunity find it. Some do not, but can’t go home again either. The fact that Singapore looks like a shining city on the hill to the rural people in Malaysia and other nearby countries enough to make them move there doesn’t mean that they get what they expected.

The_Idler's avatar

Wow I didnt realise the world had crossed that threshold already.

And yeah, I know that is how it is.
It happened when Britain industrialised, when the US industrialised and now it is turning out the be extremely disruptive during China’s industrialisation.
but Singapore doesn’t let these people in, in the first place. The problem of poor people wanting to “go home” seems to be insignificant, compared to every other major city with many immigrants.

Singapore has structured itself effectively in this respect, to avoid the problems unrestricted immigration has caused in other “shining city on the hill” situations.

Zuma's avatar

San Francisco is also a shining city (literally) on seven hills. However, it is essentially the administrative, financial, and cultural hub of a sprawling megapolis, where all the gritty manufacturing, pollution and poverty are located on the periphery.

Snarp's avatar

@Zuma Finally, you’ve made my point for me. I just wasn’t saying it right: Singapore is able to do what they do because they are just the city, and everything negative is on the periphery.

Of course, we’ll see how long that holds up for them.

The_Idler's avatar

Well the imbalance is held in check by their national sovereignty and their authoritarian government.

I think we’ll see serious civil problems in the US, before we see them in Singapore.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Zuma I take it you haven’t walked down Beach Street on the Wharf lately. There are filthy, cold, hungry, poor people lined up shoulder to shoulder, begging for food and money. In some places, they are three or four people deep. They smell up the entire street, and the public rest rooms there are unbelievable. I’m amazed the health department doesn’t shut them down. I couldn’t even get in the door of one, it made me so sick.

Zuma's avatar

@YARNLADY I’m sorry to hear that your fellow man disgusts you so. Perhaps you would prefer to throw them in prison or execute them.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Zuma It was the rest room that sickened me, not the people. I would prefer that they all get jobs and take care of themselves, or at the very least be provided for by the taxpayers. I was simply pointing out that your beloved city is not as perfect as you would have us believe. I doubt that you would enjoy the smell that wafts down the streets, and invades the restaurants any more than I did. I resent your implication that I wish ill upon them.

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The_Idler's avatar

In the interest of not getting involved in this evidently personal dispute, I will say that I have considered what you have both said and made an assessment. I’ll not make the same mistake again.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Flame off, folks.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

I believe In Capital Punishment for certain offenses. Capital Punishment in the U.S. is a joke though. If the condemned is guilty and there is there is no doubt about his guilt then the execution should be carried out as soon as possible. If there is a chance that the condemned is innocent then he should persue appeals. Only certain and few crimes deserve such a punishment. It should be reserved for the most heinous of crimes.

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