Why are we so barbaric?

18 May 2005

It was with immense sadness that I read the coverage of Mr. Murugesu’s wake. I cannot even begin to fathom the immense grief his poor mother and his two sons feel, not only because of the loss of the sole breadwinner in the family, but also the loss of a father and a son.

It must be heartwrenching, especially for the two boys, who have been brutally introduced to the way of the world, at least in Singapore. They have been told, in the most cruel way, that no matter how much one pleads, no matter how many people protest, no matter how strong the show of support for your cause is, the government of Singapore is not willing to listen.

Initially I wanted to attend the ceremony but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stand the grief and might break down myself, so I decided to remain home.

What did he have to die for? He carried a bag of “drugs” that is legal in many countries, has proven health benefits, and is as widely available as Panadol in the streets if you know where to look.

What is wrong with us? Why are we so barbaric? Was the crime really serious enough to warrant a death sentence? Aren’t there mitigating factors to look into? Is it really so bloody black and white? Would
Shanmugam have even done that had his financial situation in the “country with the Swiss standard of living” been better? What message have we sent through his kids? That Singapore “takes a tough stance on crime” or “we are a brutal, savage society that has no pity on the poor”? Saudi Arabia takes a tough stance on crime as well, with its weekly beheadings and
mutilations. I always thought we were more civilized than that. Turns out we aren’t that far behind.

My heart really goes out to Shanmugam’s family, especially to his aged mother. Is there any fund we can contribute to, in order to tide them over? How will the kids fund their education? Please keep us informed as to what can be done to help them, as I am sure the government won’t give them a penny.


SDP: Dear Hades,

It is indeed a tragedy that the execution went ahead. Please continue to visit this website as announcements about any follow-up action on the death penalty and for the late Mr Shanmugam’s family will be announced here.

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