Disneyland with the death penalty: Singapore’s controversial deterrent

Goh Jun Cheng

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As a global financial hub known for its impeccable cleanliness and stringent rules, Singapore carries an intriguing mix of modern innovation and traditional values.

One aspect of Singaporean law that often raises eyebrows and sparks debate is its continued enforcement of the death penalty. With an understanding that this topic may be sensitive for some, this blog post will provide an unbiased overview of the death penalty in Singapore and its societal implications.

History and Legislative Context

The death penalty has been a part of Singapore’s legal system since its time as a British colony. Since gaining independence in 1965, the city-state has retained capital punishment as a severe deterrent for grave offences. Crimes punishable by death in Singapore include murder, kidnapping, certain firearms offences, and drug trafficking above specific quantities.

The Administration of the Death Penalty

Singapore administers the death penalty by long-drop hanging, a method considered more humane as it aims to break the neck and cause instant death. Executions typically take place at dawn on Fridays in Changi Prison, and the prisoner’s next of kin receive a notice one week in advance.

The Argument for Deterrence

The Singaporean government justifies the death penalty primarily on the grounds of deterrence. They argue that the threat of capital punishment discourages potential criminals, particularly in cases of drug trafficking. Singapore views drug offences as a severe threat to societal harmony and public safety, and hence, they believe the stern measure of the death penalty is necessary.

Over the years, the Singaporean government has consistently maintained that their strict drug laws, including the death penalty, have been effective in keeping the country nearly drug-free. This is a stark contrast to many other countries struggling with drug-related crimes and addiction issues.

International Criticism and Debate

Despite its stated effectiveness, Singapore’s use of the death penalty has attracted significant international criticism. Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, argue that the death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the right to live free from torture. They also argue that there is no conclusive evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect on crime rates.

The mandatory nature of the death penalty in Singapore, where it must be imposed for certain crimes regardless of any extenuating circumstances, has been another focal point of criticism.

Recent Developments

In response to growing international and domestic discussions, Singapore has made several changes to its death penalty laws in recent years. For instance, the Singaporean government amended the Misuse of Drugs Act in 2012.

The revision allows drug couriers who have substantively assisted the Central Narcotics Bureau in disrupting drug trafficking activities, or those with mental disabilities, to be spared the death penalty and be sentenced to life imprisonment instead.


The death penalty in Singapore is a complex and controversial subject. While it serves as a stern deterrent against severe crimes, it also raises profound questions about human rights and the value of life.

As the global trend shifts more towards abolition, Singapore remains firm in its approach, demonstrating its unique perspective on law, order, and societal harmony. Whether you agree or disagree with Singapore’s stance, it certainly provokes thought on justice, punishment, and their roles in society.

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