“Suicidal” Singapore

Maxwell Coopers
Free Malaysia Today

Before it could engulf the whole nation, the debate on assisted suicide ended as it began. And it ended not because local folks showed no interest but in an election year, it would have been absolute political dynamite.

Secondly, it did not get enough airing in the media for most in the nation to take any real notice for if it had it would have caused all manner of moral, religious and ethical jousting to embroil the nation in ways it could conceivably not have imagined.
There is just good reason why?

Assisted suicide is not only immoral but as how parliamentarian Halimah Yacob declared, “issues on life and death must not precede moral and religious issues”.

Perhaps that just about encapsulates as to why the debate was inexplicably never allowed to proceed.

Since making the call, neither deputy public prosecutor Toh Puay San nor National University of Singapore don Stanley Yeo have countered arguments against the implementation of assisted suicide or answered critics.

Instead what has been tagged is that any such move towards assisted suicide is just ‘suicidal’ to speak of.

The nation’s foremost ‘humanitarian’ and former nominated parliamentarian Gerard Ee wondered aloud if a dying patient in pain can make the requisite sound judgements and decried that such move that it will spare loved ones.

“Such talk is going down the slippery slope”, he added.

The two academics had proposed that terminally-ill patients be allowed to kill themselves under a doctor’s supervision. It differs from euthanasia where the patient gives the doctor consent to have him/her killed.

Any notion of fostering suicide or assisted-suicide is also legally untenable because as the Singapore Medical Council aptly put it, doctors are expected to abide by the prevailing laws in Singapore and that includes not ‘abetting’ in the killing of their compatriots.

The country makes it an offence for people to take their lives and it is not uncommon at the sites of suicide victims to see police officers cuff deceased individuals before taking them to the morgue for autopsy.

Yet despite such an outright prohibition on suicides the two authors found cause for mitigation when they argued saying it is “realistic to assert that even with their prohibition, acts of Physician-Assisted Suicides (PAS) are being conducted in secret”.

On the face of it, with an ageing population slated to occupy a huge portion of the country’s populace by 2030 with the ancillary upshot of medical expenses that can only be borne by tax increases, it leaves to wonder if the proposal was taken with that prognosis in view.

Yet there was no extrapolation of the issue along those lines.

That was only perhaps out of concerns that such incendiary debate in a multi-religious nation may just not be in poor taste but cause the fissures that no sensible government can risk flirting with.

And for anything promising that kind of an outcome, the issue is effectively buried for now.

Wait for post-election Singapore. It could just be ‘different’ with what’s been talked and mooted about, now.

Maxwell Coopers is a Singapore-based freelance journalist.


Read also:

Ars Moriendi — The lost art of dying (by Dr Patrick Kee)

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