t Double Yellow's Musings: Drug Trafficking vs Terrorism: Which is the Bigger Crime?
The warped mind of Double Yellow craves for humor everyday. His daily dose comes from The Straits Times, The Sunday Times, Today, Channelnewsasia, etc. He also thinks that because of this preamble, this blog will never get featured in the local media. And of course, please read the Disclaimer before embarking on the journey.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Drug Trafficking vs Terrorism: Which is the Bigger Crime?

In yet another backlash to the death penalty in Singapore, TV New Zealand decided to run a story on how Singapore hangs drug traffickers but rehabilitates terrorists. (found via IZReloaded)

Singapore may hang drug traffickers like Australian Nguyen Tuong Van, but it has refrained in recent years from trying to execute terrorists. Instead Singapore, which probably executes more prisoners per capita than any other country, detains would-be bombers and their backers without trial. It has also attempted to rehabilitate terror suspects - an avenue not available to executed Melbourne man Nguyen, because Singapore law demands the mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking.

If the comments at IZReloaded for this entry are anything to go by, the terms that come out are "double standards", "hypocrisy" and "shocking". This one by Big Dave is the best....

Are we telling terrorists that its alright to do their dirty work here in Singapore? Come try to bomb us, if you get caught before you do it, youll most likely be detained, rehabilitated and if you show that you are a good boy, you will be released. Is this the message that we want to be giving out to would be terrorists?

While at a glance this may seem like hypocrisy, there are two underlying assumptions when it comes to comparing drug trafficking and terrorism. First, a harsher crime will require a harsher punishment with death penalty being the harshest of them all. Second, terrorism is a harsher crime than drug trafficking. While the first supposition may be true, the second hypothesis I’m afraid isn’t so clear cut.

On what basis does terrorism become a more cruel crime than drug trafficking?

(1) Number of deaths? More people have died due to drugs than terrorism
(2) More dangerous? The drug cartels are a lot more organized than terror cells
(3) Innocent victims? Going by the emphasis that governments place on the production of drugs rather than consumption, drug takers are probably as innocent as terrorism victims

Comparing offences like drug trafficking with terrorism is like comparing oranges with apples. I am not for the death penalty but if you want to argue against it, this is a bad way to put forward your case. Criticizing Singapore government's response to terrorism to discredit its action against drug traffickers is er, misplaced. I think rehabilitation of terrorists is the right way to go forward.


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