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Death by Bureaucracy (wethecitizens.net)
108 points by Yeri 82 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 74 comments

In 2019, in a very different situation, I was worried about the hospital bureaucracy that almost killed my mom. My mom was struggling with pneumonia and the antibiotics were not yet having any effect, but they scheduled her for surgery on her eye, and once the surgery had been scheduled, it was very difficult to try to stop it, the momentum to stick with the schedule was incredible, even though it seemed unlikely she would survive the surgery. I kept asking, can't we wait a week and do the surgery when she's recovered from the pneumonia? But there was a feeling, no, we must operate on her eye now, even though there was nothing to gain from the surgery, as they said they were unable to restore her eyesight. But I was able to stop the surgery and my mom is still alive today. I wrote about this in some detail in Regarding The Death Of My Father:


Wow. I’m curious where this happened because in the US it’s the polar opposite - any risk and it’s impossible to get the healthcare system to move, not stop. Glad to hear that your mom is alive today.

This happened in the USA. The details are in the book.

I didn’t know you could be put to death for non-violent crimes. Article says he was only charged with drug possession. This happened in Singapore, but according to Wikipedia “large-scale drug trafficking” is a capital crime in the US, too. Transporting 42g of heroin doesn’t sound even close to large-scale, but I can imagine getting swallowed up by a legal labyrinth anyhow, especially if you’re disadvantaged.

I don’t understand why more lawyers aren’t up in arms about the severe sentencing happening in the US. Guess it’s a similar situation to engineers being paid through the nose while pretending Big Tech is working for the greater good.

Not defending this at all but this does show you’ve never visited Singapore. Before entering you repeatedly get many many notices of a death penalty for drug traffickers regardless of the quantity and type. It’s even written in large bold letters on the immigration card.

I'm ashamed I have visited. Print those warnings in all the emphasized font you want, could Nagaenthran comprehend them and connect the dots to his coerced situation?

Everyone should at some point in their upbringing have a modicum of experience caring for someone with a mental disability

Singapore's actions and judicial system are vile and disgusting.

The US killed the Rosenbergs for espionage. That was technically a nonviolent act, although furnishing atomic secrets to the USSR could be seen as an accessory to mass murder.

Killing somebody for heroin? That is an entirely new level of depravety.

Legislation in the US allows the death penalty for drug trafficking alone, although AFAIK this has never been applied without violent offences as well.

It's a bizarre world. How can a person get a death sentence from 50 grams of cocaine. What an idiot regime and or public moral you must have as a country.

They look at the West with its respect for the human rights of drug dealers and notice that it seems to suffer from tens of thousands of drug overdoses every year as well as creating tens of millions of addicts inflicting crime and squalor on their communities. They notice that the streets of Singapore aren’t littered with needles like they are in San Francisco. They think you’re the moral idiot for tolerating this societal catastrophe in the name of human rights.

Singapore’s leaders believe that their severity is a small price to pay for keeping at bay the vices of the outside world. What would you say to them to convince them that they’re wrong?

That the US still criminalizes drug use. Portugal decriminalized in 2001 and "has seen dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection and drug-related crime."


> What would you say to them to convince them that they’re wrong?

That the West is not littered with needles, so their severity is a massive price to pay for a minuscule gain.

Been to a public park in a big city lately? I have some sad news for you…

Rome, London, Berlin, Paris and Milan in the past 2 months. I haven’t seen a used needle in decades (I saw a needle only once when I was a child)

We really want to reduce this to a littering problem?

After the NYTimes, about 159000 people were killed by drugs between 2015 and 2017 just in US. 591000 Americans had problems related with Heroine abuse in 2015, how many of this people are dead now, or will end dying under a bridge? Their predators will not stop just by asking nicely.

I don't agree with the punishment, but something must be done and either you send a very clear message of non tolerance with traffic or you allow the drug lords to take all, infiltrate in the government and corrupt everything in a few years.

The best solution would be to legalize, tax and regulate what could be regulated but in the meanwhile I don't have a lot of sympathy for this people. Better to save it for the real victims.

> We really want to reduce this to a littering problem?

We really are pretending that if there’s an opiates epidemic in some areas of the USA, then the whole West has a severe drug problem?

The person I replied to claimed western cities are littered with needles, then another one came and told me that he had bad news re: public parks in big cities.

Not condoning an execution, but I do find it a lot more idiotic and morally wrong letting 10s of thousands of your citizens die every year from drug overdose.

Freedom means that you should get to choose. Car accidents kill and injure a lot of people every year. In some demographics (young people) it's actually one of the leading causes of death. Should we ban driving and force people to either walk or use public transport? It'll save a lot of lives from car accidents after all.

Are you seriously comparing drugs with transport?

Why not? The death and injury count for personal vehicles is very high. Why should the regular populace be allowed to operate such death machines?

I think what confuses you to make such a grotesque analogy between transportation and drugs is a belief that when it comes to drugs, people have the same agency and freedom of choice as they have for other things in life. But they don't. Once you follow that path, coming back is almost impossible. Addiction is very very hard to beat. Even if you somehow manage, it probably never goes away completely. You are not free to choose, drugs shutdown that part of the brain. I find it really immoral that we let vulnerable people have access to drugs like heroin. We are condemning them to suffer immensely.

And how easy is it to voluntarily give up using personal vehicles? You decide, against everything on our current society, to give up using cars. Do you think it would be easy? Cars might not be destroying our physical bodies directly, but they are harming nature.

I'm not in favor of banning cars. I'm in favor of people having the freedom to choose. I also believe that if drugs weren't so heavily criminalized then people suffering from drug issues could more easily get help. Portugal decriminalized drugs and saw a lot of positive change. But over the last decade they've been putting up more limits again and the situation is deteriorating.

Based on anecdotes here on HN, quite easily actually. They say that you only have to move to a city and you can be car free. I don't agree but it seems plenty of people here have achieved just that.

Honestly it is really hard for me to have a discussion about this since I don't see any similarities between cars and drugs. A car is tool like any other. Drugs are poison, very much like a virus. Once on drugs people don't have freedom of choice any more.

I think it is cruel to allow people easier access to drugs. Because most people who started taking them were already not in good place.

The concepts of liberty and security are in tension.

One wishes harm on none, but externally forcing preferred choices on people veers authoritarian really, really quickly.

Horses led to water can opt to die of dehydration, alas.

Drugs like heroin take away all your liberty whether you want it or not. Once you become slave of drugs there are no options or preferences only ever increasing desire for more.

And yet, that (generally) true statement seems hardly a deterrent to production or use thereof.

Therefore it is prudent of a society to prevent both: production and use.

I don't disagree. What I'd like to see is a more consistent societal rule for deciding where the line on "the public interest" and liberty is drawn.

I agree.

Heroine, not cocaine. It was about 500 doses.

having met some people wrapped up in drugs, i can tell you that sometimes people who sell drugs are doing it to support a habit, i’ve met people who started out on prescription pain pills that they got prescribed from their doctor due to a surgery.

the pills were then eventually stopped and they got desperate because for many it was the first time in their life that they felt happy, many were in extreme poverty or had mental illness before getting hooked to prescription drugs, they got locked up for something dumb or less offensive, the system put them on probation, where it made them toxic to employeers, so they turned to selling because they were already doomed as it was, the drug war just reinforces a separate class of people.

i don’t agree with people using drugs like heroin but, ive met many people who actually said that oxytocin and oxycoden is way better than heroin, and that they prefer it.

and i am almost certain that more people die from prescription opiates a year than heroin yet, whenever someone mentions it, the whole conversation disappears with hush money. the drug war really seems like a tax on the most vulnerable in which was fueled by big pharma and paid by the average worker (us).

johnson and johnson got called out on it and got a tiny slap on the hand, and later on was trusted enough to make a vaccine. which i am pretty sure johnson and johnson also had a baby powder lawsuit over their baby powder giving newborns cancer, but the problem is, the accountability is only on the people who cannot afford to pay the bill, the real criminals work for these companies, own these companies, lobby for these companies and or pass laws for profit at the expense of a healthy society.

it’s just weird, we lock up the poor but don’t punish the source. it’s legal patchwork, but i know some people on here probably work for someone like johnson and johnson and nobody wants to bite the hand that feeds them.

the system here in the states needs to be fixed. it doesn’t have to be law based but it definitely has to have a better framework than what we have going on right now.

Whenever I read articles like this one, I try extremely hard not to view it through an Orientalist lens. But sometimes it's extremely hard to do. I was born in the US, but whenever I'd visit Asia or relatives in India, I couldn't help but notice there is something "broken" about the psyche of Asians. The upper echeleons of society are typically the most degenerate, at least from what I've observed. They like to drink, gamble, do drugs, etc...but God forbid if the lower classes even do a fraction of what they do. They will thrown down the hammer of social and moral superiority. The modern Asian is still chained by the shackles of colonialism.

> They like to drink, gamble, do drugs, etc..

Westerners do all of that. Otherwise major sports teams, at least in Europe, wouldn't have as sponsors betting companies, drugs wouldn't be a multi billion dollar industry and drinking wouldn't be more widespread than anywhere in the world. Maybe Westerners don't flaunt it as much.

And the solution to this is executing mentally impaired poor buggers fir caring 50 grams of dope? Not even Russia does that today, they just throw you in jail for 10 years.

Singapore inherits its penal code from the British, and most locals find drugs abhorrent because they're acutely aware of both the Opium Wars in China, and the former extent of drug addiction and gang violence in Singapore itself.

Capital punishment was abolished in Britain in the 1960s.

[edit] with some exceptions for which no one was ever executed (eg piracy). Finally sorted out in 1998

I have seen same from my relatives who went/born in the us. They think the rest of the family is beneath them. I guess its a human thing and not Asian issue.

The boomer Western is still chained by the shackles of stereotyping. You see a pattern and fit it to one dimension (race/nationality) but miss that the pattern may be better explained along other dimensions (rich kids gambling and drinking in any culture maybe?). You take a week/month long tourist trip in a country and presume this tiny sliver of experience represents an entire culture.

This could be racism driven, even though SG is known to be heavily authoritarian against drugs regardless. East Asian countries tend to be very racist towards brown Asians (South East Asia and South Asia).

  "His IQ is only 69"
Never had a chance

>East Asian countries tend to be very racist towards brown Asians

This is the most nonsensical statement I have ever seen on HN. By the lens of racialism (which is also scientifically invalid), Indians would be Caucasian, not Asian, East Asian countries being racist against Asians would not be racism at all, it'd some kind of ethnic discrimination.

You mistakenly think that "ethnic discrimination" is distinct from racism when it's not. Racism:

  "prejudice, discrimination ... against a person ... on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group."

I was kind of waiting to hear the guy had killed someone, so that I could invalidate the whole article. But then it’s 42g of heroin on someone that was undoubtedly suckered into doing it.

You think that’s bad, the Singapore Supreme Court just reaffirmed the execution of someone caught smuggling in 1kg of marijuana.


I get it, it’s their country, they can have their own laws. I’m not arguing they can’t. Give the guy a lengthy prison sentence, I won’t agree it’s fair or productive, but he’ll get out eventually.

But no, they’re going to kill this guy. Over marijuana.

Even if he was a murderer is that a reason to not give his family more than 2 weeks notice? They didn't murder anyone.

He'd been on Death Row for over a decade. This wasn't sudden.

Fair point, but are you really suggesting that it would be reasonable for his family to be on call for a potential two-week notice for over a decade? It seems to me to be a very clear power imbalance here between the parties, where one party with only minimal effort (giving maybe two or three months notice) would make matters substantially easier (and humane) for the other party.

Would that actually be more humane? They’d feel compelled to spend those three months with their family member, instead of getting to start grieving/move on.

I guess I still lean towards giving people a choice, but I’m not sure it’s actually better.

I would absolutely prefer to have 3 months notice that 2 weeks if my brother was on death row in Singapore (and I was outside Singapore), especially as as the article describes it's difficult for them to even manage to get there in that time.

If he were a murderer, that wouldn't have invalidated the whole article. Even if you subscribe to an "eye for an eye" type "justice" and agree with execution for murder, giving two weeks notice, during a pandemic, for family in another country with quarantine requirements both ways is inhumane.

> is inhumane

So is killing other people. It’s one of the few cases in which I agree with such a penalty (in theory, in practice I’d still not want it for fear of making a mistake).

God bless all of these activists. They've made it possible for this family to visit their son, whose death is so capricious, and so capriciously scheduled. I'm in tears.

Wow- reading this I was like- well he shouldn’t have murdered his victim then. And then I realized he was being killed for possession of drugs. Wtf the headline should read- death for possession not the stupid complain of the bureaucracy involved in killing him

Han and her usual readers are well aware of the many unjust executions that have taken place in Singapore. The complaints about bureaucracy aren’t ‘stupid’—they’re actually quite important, since tempering the procedural aspect is more likely than eliminating the death penalty for possession, and they also might help to show Singaporeans the underlying bureaucratic tendencies that lead both to the use of the death penalty and the specific infelicities listed.

Reminds me of the timeless piece by William Gibson on Singapore, “Disneyland with the Death Penalty”.

ref : https://www.wired.com/1993/04/gibson-2/

Drugs should be decriminalized and later legalized with varying degrees of regulation.

It's happening with Cannabis now, but there is still a long way to go with drugs such as Heroin and Cocaine.

You want heroin and cocaine to be decriminalized and legalized?

Absolutely, but with stricter regulation than cannabis.

Having authorized vendors where you can give advice to the buyer is much better than the current state of affairs.

For Europe the outlook is quite gloomy without any regulation:


Killing people for possession of drugs is a sign of having sociopaths running the place. Big pharma propaganda is largely responsible for much of this

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