Lawrence Wong’s Niche For Winning People’s Hearts And Minds: Is He Ok With The Status Quo Of The Death Penalty?

Lawrence Wong's Niche For Winning People's Hearts And Minds: Is He Ok With The Status Quo Of The Death Penalty?

The dust has begun to settle following the announcement of Lawrence Wong, Minister of Finance and likely future Prime Minister of our country. Mr Wong has not made any significant gaffes (unlike Heng Swee Keat (think East Coast Plan) or Chan Chun Sing (think “Sia Suay” or “cotton from sheep”), but he has also not done anything spectacular. He is viewed as the steady pair of hands who will take the entrenched system forward. Is this a positive development? It all depends on who you ask.

Looking at where our country is now, is more of the same going to propel us to new heights?

The globe is in a fragile state right now. With the worldwide economic consequences from the Covid-19 pandemic, growing living costs, escalating oil prices as a result of Putin’s conflict, and a younger population demanding more than just bread and butter issues, is Mr Wong inventive or daring enough to move our country forward?

Despite the fact that it is early in his tenure, Mr Wong has yet to set the tone for his future leadership. Could he, however, herald a more humanitarian People’s Action Party (PAP) leadership?

Even while we like to think of Singapore as a mainly benign country, a little digging reveals that its rules may be exceedingly severe and unforgiving, with the older generation conditioned to believe that such policies are necessary.

The Death Penalty: How Effective Is It?

As an example, consider the death penalty. Those who support the death penalty use the deterrent argument, while those who oppose it argue for the sanctity of life. Without delving into the pros and cons, I believe we can all agree that the death sentence is only effective if it actually serves as a deterrent. But is this the case?

The Case of Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam

While the authorities seem to be playing catch-up in the unpleasant business of state-sanctioned killing post-pandemic, it has come to light that we are willing to execute someone who is mentally challenged. How can the deterrence argument possibly be used to Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam’s terrible case?

After all, how can you prevent someone who is unaware of the consequences? Many members of the public, intellectual leaders, and civil society have spoken out in opposition.

Does the Deterrence Logic Actually Work?

Most of the persons sentenced to death for drug-related offenses are impoverished, illiterate, underprivileged guys from our poorer neighboring countries. How is this a deterrent if the drug lords are never apprehended?

Until we tackle the problem of immense poverty and a chronic lack of opportunity in our region, there will be no lack of young men to manipulate. There goes the deterrence logic!

Have you ever stopped to think about why you believe in the death sentence for drug mules? Have you seen scientific evidence that putting vulnerable young men to death reduces drug trafficking? Have you arrived at that conclusion on your own, or have you been conditioned to believe that this is the only way?

Isn’t it the thorough monitoring of our borders and rigorous checks that genuinely halt drugs, rather than the death penalty?

I sometimes wonder if people subscribe to the narrative of drug traffickers’ deaths without delving deeper because, on some level, they are aware that many of those hung are simply victims themselves. To delve deeper would be too confronting, tough, upsetting, and hurtful.

Is our collective inability to confront the unpleasant reason for being willfully oblivious to the fact that our country will enable a low IQ individual to be hanged with our consent?

Is Mr Wong content with the status quo as the next Prime Minister?

Where Do The Major Parties Stand?

People’s Action Party (PAP)

While boomers and, to a lesser extent, Generation X and Millennials are content with this, gen zetters are a different breed. Mr Wong will not be able to capture the support of this generation of voters if he continues to use outmoded tactics.

The PAP takes pleasure in being a party that can plan for the future. How can Mr. Wong demonstrate his ability to plan for the future if the gen zetters and their concerns are ignored?

Personally, I would be encouraged if Mr Wong signaled a sea shift on a major issue in order to boldly demonstrate that the PAP can evolve – that it can be refreshed and that it can remain relevant.

Workers’ Party (WP)

Workers’ Party (WP) MPs such as Pritam Singh, Dennis Tan, and Jamus Lim are considered as grassroots successes battling for Singapore’s heartland, which comprises the majority of the population. Mr Lim recently stated that his ambition is for Singapore’s economy to “will evolve into one where all workers—not just those at the high end of the educational and talent spectrum—receive sound, living wages that reward them for honest jobs, done well.”

Mr Wong, on the other hand, has recently been chastised for being out of touch. So, what is Mr Wong’s niche for winning people’s hearts and minds?

Business Asia
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