Alan Shadrake unleashed a storm of anger in Singapore when he released a book entitled: “Once A Jolly Hangman” which charges a double standard exists in the city-state when it comes to issues of death and dying. After interviewing a wide range of individuals, including the former executioner as well as numerous human rights activists, the author concluded not everyone receives the same sentence for the same crime, particularly when it comes to murder. Singapore’s government immediately instituted criminal charges against the author which include “criminal defamation” and “contempt of court.” It is unusual to be charged with “contempt of court” prior to entering a court and being charged with a crime, but this only goes to demonstrate a double standard does exist.
There is nothing shocking in these charges since in virtually every society in the world a double standard exists when it comes to punishment for murder. I was once told there is not a single example in the 20th century of an American millionaire being sentenced to death for the crime of murder. After all, Wall Street financiers robbed people of billions without ever going to jail, but a kid who robbed a store and got $15 is probably going to spend ten years in jail.