Appeal letter for Shanmugam

April 22, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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22 April 2005

To: His Excellency S R Nathan
Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Mr Wong Kan Seng

I am a student in the National University of Singapore and am writing as a concerned member of this community. Reading about Shamugam Murgesu has greatly disturbed me. I understand that what he did was against the law, and punishment must be dealt out.

However, a death sentence is too harsh, and what’s more, if the sentence ensues, his two children will be effectively orphaned by the State.

From his family situation, it is clear that Shamugum trafficked drugs more as an act of desperation or neccessity than avarice. Do his actions really merit a death sentence? Did he rape, did he kill, did he victimize or oppress the weak?

From what I’ve read about him, it doesn’t appear to be the case. He has contibuted to the good reputation of Singapore by taking part in international sports events. He fell into drug use when he became depressed after the divorce with his wife – are we not human enough to make the same mistake given the same circumstances?

In many developed countries, the trafficking of Cannabis is not considered to be punishable by death and the sentences regarding Cannabis are much lighter – in Cananda for example, trafficking up to almost three times as much of what Shamugam had (up to 3kg) would merit a mere five years of imprisonment as opposed to a death sentence that would be delivered here for trafficking 1kg (according to the Health Canada website – http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hecs-sesc/cds/cannabis/facts.htm).

In addition to this, in Holland, it can be bought legally over the counter or consumed in a licensed coffeeshop.

In the light of all these facts,can one, with a clear conscience, sentence Shamugam Murgesu, who prior to this offence has never been convicted for anything else, to death for trafficking 1,028grams of Cannibis?

As a concerned citizen and member of a democracy, I feel that the Shanmugam should be released from a death sentence and the drug law concerning cannabis should be revised.

Yours Truly,

Deborah Lee