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The death penalty has been a subject that has been highly debated and talked about amongst Singaporeans ranging from teenagers to elderly. In this essay, the researchers attempt to understand why Singaporeans support the death penalty, and what the numbers are. This research is a good way to test the words of the Singapore government as they had always said that the majority of Singaporeans support the death penalty. Hence, continuing the practice of the death penalty.
The researchers claim that there is always an assumption that Singaporeans support the death penalty. The claim was based on the Singapore Court of Appeal’s case of Chew Seow Leng v Public Prosecutor (2005) where the court opined that Singapore’s society displays a strong revulsion towards drug trafficking and the defendant’s lawyers have not proved to the court that the society’s viewpoint on the death penalty had changed. The researchers then take the stance that if the lack of public support for the death penalty could be proven, there could be amendments, such as abolition, made to the use of the death penalty in Singapore.
In order to find out how much support the death penalty received from Singaporeans, the researchers asked respondents if the number of persons executed in the past 10 years was either a lot, average, or too little. More than 50% of the respondents felt that the number was just nice. 8% thought the number was too low whilst the remainder thought it was too high. It was also discovered that 7 out of 10 Singaporeans supported the death penalty.
Understanding the reasons why there was majority support is key to the abolition of the death penalty. Hence, two questions were asked to the respondents. The two questions were whether they would support for the death penalty if (1) new scientific evidence proved that the death penalty was not a better deterrent than life or very long imprisonment, and (2) if it was proved that innocent people have been executed by an error in the court’s judgment. The statistics state that 6 out of 10 still showed support whilst the remainder changed their support. The change of opinions was on the basis that the death penalty is successful as a deterrent, but it was not justifiable to carry on using a successful deterrent at the expense of innocent people’s lives.
The research shows that people’s support for the death penalty can fluctuate based on a variety of scenarios ranging from deterrence to wrongful sentencing. It comes to show that Singaporeans are not well educated on the subject of the death penalty. Hence, this research is strong in proving that Singaporeans lack interest and knowledge on the subject of the death penalty.
A major flaw I find with the whole research is that the researchers treat opinions as facts. The truth is that a fact is a statement can be supported to be true or false by data or evidence. Whereas, an opinion is a personal expression of feelings and thoughts that might not be established by data. Let’s take, for example, some people hold the opinion that the world is not round, instead, it is flat. Despite scientists disproving that, these opinions still live. It is important to recognise the distinction between fact and opinion. Although everybody is entitled to an opinion, some of them are not equally valuable. I disagree with the researchers that the opinions of laymen would lead to the abolishment of the death penalty as well as allow laymen opinions to decide whether murders and drug traffickers should be hanged.
In conclusion, the research paper on the death penalty did well in showing that Singaporeans lacked interests and knowledge on the subject. However, I feel that the research gave too much credit to the opinions of Singaporeans regarding the death penalty. Had the research taken a more academic stance rather than emotional, I believe the essay could be useful for the abolishment of the death penalty.
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