"Um, I don't know, I haven't read the case."
Or maybe I said "I didn't read the case". I can't quite remember.
I'm currently very pissed off because I realise how ignorant Singaporeans are and the way they boldly flaunt that ignorance in their little blogs seriously annoys me. The way these people with questionable morals that think Nguyen Tuong Van deserves to die structure their arguments is so predictably bland, banal, and unresearched.
In a larger sense, it's rather scary. If I weren't in Law school I wouldn't know a single thing about what goes on in our precious little judicial system, which means I'd always be blissful in my ignorance and my life would forever be meaningless. Because at least now I know what I'd do with my LLB (Hons.) if I can't get into Cambridge and the other American universities I'd be applying to, and I thank SLS - a bit, maybe 50% max. - for giving me a sense of direction.
I don't know the exact percentage of Singaporeans who have gone through Law school, but god, with a useless media that reports nothing important and everything pro-government the ignorance that festers within this society is enough to stagnate us. I believe the true patroits are those who identify the problems with their country and take actions to correct those problems; there's a huge difference between bitching about your country and how much it sucks and bitching about your country and how much it sucks, and doing something to let it suck less. I've said this before and I'll say it again: the difference between Singapore and New York Paris London even Taipei, and the reason why we'd never be like them, lies in the fundamental difference in the mindsets of the people that make up these societies.
And I'm sorry to say this, but this society doesn't think, doesn't know a single important thing about its own bloody country, and until we are more informed or until we give enough of a damn to be more informed, we'd always be this Singapore. Forget aspirations of being a global city - a global city doesn't censor its citizens, doesn't control its press, and doesn't deny its people's right to civil disobedience.
I'm half-wanting to migrate and half-wanting to stay and try and make a difference. It bugs me so much, and yet I'm pessimistic because I have a vague idea of how things work in there and change is almost as impossible as cutting a diamond into two using a knife.
I read an excerpt from the Nguyen Tuong Van Court of Appeal judgment; it was a part of the SLS readings on Punishment which I didn't read because I have this tendency to tune out when people are talking about subjects that I feel very strongly about. I did try to read it, but when I read the part in the Penal Code that clinically describes how the death penalty is carried out I was so disgusted that I chucked it aside. And today, I had to force myself to finish reading that excerpt.
All I can say is that I'm willing to bet that if we hadn't abolished appeals to the Privy Council, Van wouldn't have to die in such a senseless, unjust way. I'm angry at the state and at every single person who thinks the state should be applauded, I'm angry at John Howard for not doing more, I'm angry at myself because I'm not able to do anything.
I wish the world didn't have so much blood on its hands. I wish things made more sense, that people were more compassionate, more well-informed, that petty nationalism didn't have such a blinding effect on a person's judgement.
Wait a minute. I just noticed something.
Can someone clever please explain this to me? In the Nguyen Tuong Van judgment the judge wrote the following:
"Indeed, the passage quoted above shows that there is not enough evidence at this time to show a customary international law prohibition against the death penalty generally. According to a report from the UN Commission on Human Rights, Question of the Death Penalty: Report of the Secretary-General submitted pursuant to Commission resolution 2002/77 UN ESCOR, 59th Sess, UN Doc E/CN.4/2003/106 (2003), as at 1 December 2002, the status of the death penalty worldwide was as follows:
Number of retentionist countries: 71
Number of completely abolitionist countries: 77
Number of countries abolitionist for ordinary crimes only: 15
Number of countries that can be considered de facto abolitionist: 33
The number of States retaining the death penalty was almost equal to the number of States that had abolished it. In most States retaining the death penalty, the mode of execution is by hanging or shooting."
I googled 'death penalty statistics united nations' and came up with this:
"Regarding the death penalty, the Commission, after a roll-call vote of 28 in favour, 20 opposed, with five abstentions, called upon States parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to consider acceding to or ratifying the second optional protocol to the Covenant, aimed at abolition of the death penalty; called upon all States progressively to restrict the number of offences for which the death penalty may be imposed; and called on States that no longer applied the death penalty but maintained it in their legislation to abolish it."
An excerpt from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a report dated 21/04/04, to read it click here.
I was thinking, maybe the judgment was read before 21/04/04. So I looked up the whole judgment (here) and indeed, the judgment was read in March.
Even then, I stumbled across this little something called the International Agreement to Abolish the Death Penalty, passed by the United Nations...in 1989. (Click.)
Oh wait, I made a mistake. The March judgment is a High Court judgment; the one I quoted from is a Court of Appeal judgment, dated 6 October 2004.
Did the judge not do his research or does the term "customary international law" mean something else? I am really confused and any form of enlightenment would be useful. (JoMel???)
Back to the 2002 UN statistics. Are the 33 de facto abolitionist countries included in the 77 completely abolitionist countries? My English isn't perfect, but from what I understand of the phrase 'de facto' it means that those countries still retain the death penalty, but it's hardly - or never - brought into practice, hence 'de facto abolitionist'. So doesn't 33+77=110? Is 110 "almost equal" to 71?
The more I harp on about this, the angrier I feel about the Nguyen Tuong Van case. I am wholly unconvinced, and I've read the more pertinent parts of the judgments, both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. It seems strange that we supposedly pride ourselves on being a developed country when the only two developed countries in the world that retain the death penalty are the USA and Japan - but then again, Singapore isn't cited amongst those two countries so I guess we're not "developed", but still "developing".
Whatever. Sometimes, it's so clear why I hold on to the belief that patriotism and nationalism are hardly anything more than elaborate and blatant manifestations of sentimentality. What are you patriotic about?
There are also all these talks about the "due process of the law" - a cue for me to laugh.
Due process of the law in this country seems to include the lack of legal representation for poor accused criminals who can't afford it. How interesting.
Changing the subject now. Maybe I will go through with this LLB (Hons.) thing after all. To hell with Contract and Company Law (Year 2 - joy and happiness, I like totally like cannot like wait like).
In fact, TO HELL WITH THE CONTRACT TEST. I'll just do what I have to to get a C. Whatever. I want to be an activist but an activist without legal knowledge is just a fool sprouting arguments with holes so big that it's a free ticket for his enemy to shoot a canon through it.
It's about making it count at the end of the day, isn't it? I'm bored with the trivial concerns of my meaningless life - the grades I get, the friends I have, the friends I don't have, the boyfriends I don't have, how hard my life sucks as a result. Oh, shut up already, Yelen. Compared to so many other people you really have it a lot better, you have no right to complain if the worst mistake of your life does not slap a pair of handcuffs around your wrists and marches you straight into the gallows of Changi Prison, you're not poor enough to resort to peddling hardcore drugs for cash, just grow up already and do something useful and meaningful with your life.
The rest of them don't remotely matter.
It'd be nice if the Criminal Law module next semester - which is about the only thing that isn't making me want to kill myself at the thought of more and more and more Law school - can give me some answers.
I was so pissed that I was snapping at my mom. I only get that pissed off when something personal happens, or when Contract tutorials just keep insisting on getting on my nerves by not making sense.
International Law is a possibility too.
Anyway, I will spend tomorrow until next Friday studying for the SLS take-home paper. For Torts and Contract, I'll just do what I can to get a C.
Hahahaha. There are more disastrous things in life than getting a C for your exams. I'm already over it.