“My life could have ended on a rope at dawn on a Friday morning.”
Jeremy, one of the rare individuals who managed to successfully challenge his death sentence in Singapore, shares his thoughts with us. He walks as a free man today.
*Name has been changed to protect his identity.
The only people that understands what I’ve been through are the people who has experienced it first hand.
No one else does. Period.
There are a very small and dedicated group of individuals who have selflessly dedicated their time, energy their integrity and principles to very determinedly call for an abolition of the death penalty. I have tremendous respect for them.
Why? Why be a minority voice that challenges the establishment for a practice that has been described as barbaric, against all human values, a premeditated murder in its purest form? Why is there a satisfaction in planning out a persons final seconds on this earth, right down to how much he can spend on his last meal and how long he can talk to his loved ones?
How is it humane when he walks back to his cell, say his prayers, compose himself, wait for the break of dawn, shackled and then escorted to his death rope? The irony is that a pouch will be put over his head so that he cannot see the actual rope that will end his life.
Well there’s a little bit of humanity at its best. “We’ll hang you buddy! But no worries. We won’t let you see the rope. Cool?”
Mistakes. Who hasn’t made them. Some of us do it more often than others. Some of us get caught and some of us don’t. Some of us are punished. Some of us are killed for it.
Well what happens if a Judge made a mistake. What happens if the mistake costs you your life. What happens?
Would you call it human error? Would you say it’s one of those things?
It has happened to me. Fact. I spent a considerable amount of time on death row. The official term is condemned cell and I was officially know as a PACP. Prisoner awaiting capital punishment. Read the 1st paragraph.
Has it happened in the past? It’s my view that it has happened on many occasions. I may be wrong, but this hanging system has been around for a very long time. Since Independence, there are close to a 1000 individuals who have been sentanced to death.
A dedicated reviewing party might find 1 or 2 or even more where instances that a life could have been spared due to a number of reasons.
And if that is the case, haven’t we all just hanged someone who was worthy of having his life spared. Do we now just brush that a away? Do we create a distance since we never really knew that person or his family? What happens now?
It is human to err. It is human to make mistakes. It is human to deliver wrong judgments. Human error is not an excuse, but human error will be persistent in the human race.
Laws were made by human. Laws can be changed by human. It is easier to go with the status quo. It is much, much more difficult to have an independent mind and go against it. It takes inner strength and courage to fight for what we believe in, and very often this small group of dedicated warriors fight for individuals that need life, not death for mistakes that they had made.
Not everyone will join this fight. Not everyone will join this struggle. Not everyone has that will to go on fighting year after year. Case after case. Hanging after hanging. Not everyone can do it. And not everyone will do it.
But it’s a choice you make. It’s a choice of where you stand. It’s a choice of how much a life means to you. It’s an ultimate choice if someone lives or is given a date and time, right to the very seconds where his life will end.
The world is changing. The climate is changing. We learn from our past mistakes and make the right changes. If for 50 years we have been using that same argument of deterrence. Then we have not really made any progress, have we? We are just using a cut and paste argument that carries no merit.
So when does the change began?
Since Independence, Singapore was guided by a group of individuals that shaped the present for all of us. The present needs a reform. The present needs change. The present needs another group of individuals to take a giant step towards humanity and looking out for the best interest of its people. A country is not prosperous with dollars and cents. A country is prosperous when her population IS taken care of and changes made for a better and brighter future for generations to come.
I am a father. A husband. A son. A brother. A friend. A nephew. A citizen of Singapore.
My life could have ended on a rope at dawn on a Friday morning.