US President Donald Trump is not a figure to shy away from controversy and scandals.
A recent exclusive report by political news sites Axios has whipped up a media frenzy in the liberal West, where Trump allegedly confided he had been inspired by Singapore to impose a death penalty for drug crime.
Apparently, in one of Trump’s meetings with our PM Lee Hsien Loong, he asked LHL whether Singapore had a drug problem, to which LHL replied: ‘ No. Death Penalty.’
In the report, it is stated that Trump believed “the government has got to teach children that they’ll die if they take drugs and they’ve got to make drug dealers fear for their lives.”
The report also stated that “[Trump] would love to have a law to execute all drug dealers here in America, though he’s privately admitted it would probably be impossible to get a law this harsh passed under the American system.”
Typically, developed nations in the west have government stances inclined towards liberal values – that is, opposing corporal punishment and the death penalty.
In 1994, then US President famously objected towards Singapore’s caning of Michael Fay (we still doled out his punishment anyway).
Recently, the UK only agreed to extradite the Standard Chartered bank robber if we agreed not to cane him (which we did).
US president Trump’s stance thus comes at odds with established value systems of the West.
Difference in background
It is possible to effectively impose and regulate laws on drug trafficking and the death penalty because of Singapore’s relatively small size and transparency throughout our society.
Nonetheless, occasionally, reports of underground markets in Singapore still do surface, such as when $74,000 worth of drugs was seized in Pasir Ris two weeks ago.
The USA is considerably different.
The sheer scale and pervasiveness of existing underground drug dealing networks make it difficult to crack down on masterminds behind the dealings.
Often times, those caught are middle man, or the poor who unfortunately became hooked onto an inescapable habit of taking drugs.
A death penalty in the US on drugs could result in unintended effects of punishing the poor and destitude while the true masterminds remain at large.
Of course, this is all merely conjecture.
As with many other things the Trump has spoken, such as arming teachers in schools with guns, we should probably learn to not take his words too seriously.