The death penalty is not something that any government can start off wanting, but rather, the Government must be sure that this is essential to saving more lives, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.
If it cannot be sure the death penalty is essential to saving more lives, then the Government should not have the death penalty, he said on Wednesday to 80 youth leaders at the Asian Civilisations Museum during a dialogue on drugs and the death penalty.
Mr Shanmugam kicked the dialogue session off with this observation, before going into the evidence supporting the need for the death penalty.
This included looking at how other countries and states were adversely affected by decriminalising drugs, as well as a survey which showed that 66 per cent of Singaporeans said the mandatory death penalty is appropriate for drug trafficking.
Another Ministry of Home Affairs survey among those from the region where most arrested drug traffickers originated from in recent years, showed that 87 per cent believed capital punishment deterred people from trafficking large amounts into Singapore.
“For public policymaking, you need compassion, a soft heart, but you need a hard head,” said Mr Shanmugam, explaining that one needs a hard head to analyse, understand and try to explain policy decisions, but one also needs a soft heart for compassion.
He also said he believed that an overwhelming majority of people in Singapore today support the current drug policies.
“If a majority of Singaporeans feel that this policy ought to be changed, and they feel strongly enough that if the Government doesn’t change the policy, they will change the Government.
“A meeting like this is for me to explain to you what goes in my mind as a policymaker, and hopefully persuade you that there are some good reasons why we are doing this – so that even if you are not completely convinced when you leave the room, at least you’re convinced that we are not irrational.”
The Straits Times