So much is going on all at once that I actually had to re-read last week's wrap to recall what happened a week ago and what happened this week. It's all starting to smoosh together into one big car crash.
Singapore's killing rampage resumes
Amid all the chaotic news of corruption probes and affairs and resignations and POFMAs and threats of lawsuits (more on that later), the state has also started sending out execution notices. Three execution notices were sent out in the span of eight days.
Mohd Aziz bin Hussain was hanged on Wednesday morning. He'd been convicted of trafficking around 50g of heroin. In a Facebook post, his niece described him as the most artistic person in the family, and a joyful and funny brother to her mother.
Saridewi binte Djamani, convicted of trafficking around 30g of heroin, was hanged on Friday morning. She was the first woman executed in Singapore for almost twenty years.
This coming Thursday, another Singaporean Malay man will be hanged for drug offences. He said that he'd agreed to deliver contraband cigarettes for a friend he owed money to, and that the friend had promised to reduce his debt if he did it. He said he trusted the guy enough that he didn't check what was in the bag. It turned out that the bag contained drugs that, after analysis, contained around 50g of diamorphine (heroin).
The Misuse of Drugs Act contains a presumption clause saying that if someone is found with drugs in their possession, it's presumed that they knew the nature of the drugs. It's then up to the accused person to convince the judge that this presumption is more likely than not to be wrong. It's not enough to show that it could be wrong.
The High Court judge decided that he'd failed to rebut this presumption. Among her reasons was that she didn't believe the two were close enough for him to have trusted the friend that much. Also, she said that the friend was known to be involved in criminal activities—although none of those listed were drug trafficking—so he should have been more careful in his dealings with the dude. And while he was found to have merely been a drug courier, the prosecution didn't give him a certificate of substantive assistance, so there was no choice but to sentence him to death.
The more I think about it, the more effed up it is. “You don’t know that guy well enough to warrant that level of trust, you should have been more careful” seems incredibly subjective. At most, we might say he was silly to have been so blindly trusting. But should someone die because of that?
Also, if, as he said, he hadn’t known that he was delivering drugs at all, what information could he have given the police? It made me think that the certificate scheme might actually end up rewarding people who are more involved in drug trafficking, because they're more likely to have useful information for law enforcement.
Whose pants are going to drop now?
Lawyers' letters have been sent to Lee Hsien Yang from K Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan over what he said about the Ridout Road saga. They're demanding that he withdraw allegations that they had acted corruptly in renting the houses from the Singapore Land Authority, and also apologise and pay damages that they—magnanimous men of the people that they are—will donate to charity.
LHY had already been POFMA-ed by the law ministry for a Facebook post in which he wrote that two ministers had "leased state-owned mansions from the agency that one of them controls, felling trees and getting state-sponsored renovations." He put up the required correction notice, but also wrote a follow-up post that said he stands by what he'd written, and also that the POFMA correction notice was misleading.
On top of the POFMA, Desmond Lee has also written a piece for the website of the PAP newspaper Petir, basically calling LHY a liar who misled his father the late great LKY, etc. etc.
So let's see what happens next: will Lee Hsien Yang back down? Or will Shanmugam and Balakrishnan? Or will they actually go and fight it out in court? Singaporeans are eating way too much popcorn this month for it to be healthy.
The presidential race
We now have three presidential hopefuls, although assumptions are being made among certain people that George Goh is not going to qualify. Ho Ching, for one, seems to have already disqualified Goh in her mind, saying that between Tharman Shanmugaratnam and former GIC chief investment office Ng Kok Song, Singaporeans can choose between "2 very capable and worthy persons". Ng, too, says that he stepped forward so that Singaporeans can have a choice—does he also think that Goh is not going to be an option come election time?
As someone who was in public service for 45 years, Ng has strong ties to the establishment, and was even the guy who taught Lee Kuan Yew to meditate. It's led people to wonder if he might have been pushed forward to split the vote in the event that George Goh does qualify. He says no, but I doubt that's going to convince many people who already believe that theory.
Tharman has officially launched his campaign, and kept emphasising his "independence of mind". His slogan is "Respect for All". We've see his commitment to both these things—independence and respect—in all the times he called out his own party for below-the-belt attacks on activists and critics... oh wait, I don't think he did that.
Got some more...
🙎🏻♂️ PM-in-long-time-waiting Lawrence Wong gave an interview to the BBC recently. The man is so vanilla that it's difficult to come up with much of a reaction, much less a pun. I thought for very long some more.
🏥 Workers' Party MP Faisal Manap was hospitalised, even warded in intensive care, for a cardiac condition. Get well soon!
🧑🏻⚖️ The Court of Three Judges will hear PAP MP and lawyer Chris de Souza's case on Monday. An independent disciplinary tribunal found him guilty of misconduct last year.
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