In 1994, US teen Michael P. Fay was sentenced to caning over vandalism charges in Singapore. The outcry was intense in the US, where punishment of this nature is not sanctioned, and the sentence was reduced from 6 lashes to 4 after President Bill Clinton intervened in the matter.
The bleeding caused by the lashes, Fay told The New York Times at the time, was "like a bloody nose." He had been beaten on his butt, and had screamed out "I'm dying" as the first lash came down. A prison guard stood by him talking him through it. "O.K. Michael, three left. O.K., Michael, two left. O.K., one more; you're almost done."
Fay was also sentence to four months in jail and the crime was spray-painting cars. Fay confessed to the crime, though later saying that he had been coerced into it. The American had been living in Singapore with his parents since 1992, and after leaving prison, he returned hom to Ohio.
Where is Fay today? After returning to the US and finishing college, Fay became a successful businessman and now runs a business in the food and beverage industry.
Speaking to guest Will Chamberlain on Human Events Daily, Jack Posobiec posited that perhaps Singapore's tough-on-crime stance is owed a measure of praise for their well-functioning society, with clean streets, pristine airports, and a lack of lawbreakers.
Posobiec and Chamberlain discussed the "Singapore option," which has resulted in a rather pristine society for the Singaporean people, though it comes at a price. "Singapore beats their criminals," Posobiec said, "and Singapore executes drug traffickers."
"You really have incredible statesmanship," Chamberlain said of the tiny nation at the edge of Malaysia. "Singapore is a testament to the value of having really, really talented statesmanship."
Chamberlain cited Lee Kuan Yew, who was something of the founder of Singapore and served as Prime Minister from 1954 to 1990, when he resigned and was appointed Senior Minister by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. He continued to be appointed to that position.
"And his son is currently Prime Minister of the country," Chamberlain said, "and was one of the most talented and brilliant statesmen of the modern era. And as a result he took a very, very tiny postage stamp of a country that was, as you say, something of a backwater, and through his leadership and wise policy and the town industry, the Singaporean people turned it into one of the places that was that has one of the highest GDP per capita in the entire world, is incredibly wealthy, a beautiful, safe, incredible place to live."
"And that isn't done by adhering to a libertarian utopia or anything else," he continued. "It's a number of different sound policies, but one of them was to be very, very tough on crime."
In Singapore, chewing gum is banned. Even bringing it into the country is illegal. The reason is that it is too hard to clean up. Littering comes with hefty fines, and can result in community service sentences. Smoking is prohibited in many places, both indoors and out, as well as in some residential buildings. Laws against jaywalking are enforced, and not flushing the toilet in a public restroom is illegal. Vandalism, such as that Fay was convicted of engaging in, is punishable by up to 8 lashes with the case, as well as prison time.
The most severe punishment is set aside for drug dealers, who will be sentenced to death. "Under Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act," CNN reports, "anyone caught trafficking or importing or exporting certain quantities of illegal drugs receives the mandatory death sentence. The death sentence applies to traffickers carrying methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine or cannabis products above a certain threshold." Additionally, Singaporean police are authorized to run random drug tests on citizens and visitors.
This "pragmatic" approach, Posobiec said, is simply "what works" in Singapore. The government put together their priorities, figured out how to achieve them, and continues to put the safety of its citizens and the cleanliness of its society fist.
Yew also was a major proponent of free trade and capitalist practices, which is what led to the increase in GDP and the prosperity of the tiny nation. And to further facilitate communication and trade with the west, Singapore made English its national language.
"There's not a whole bunch of English people of origin from the United Kingdom in Singapore. So than easily could have been you know, he could have adopted Mandarin as their primary language, they could have adopted... one of the Indian languages as their primary languages," Chamberlain said.
"But they adopted English because they knew that it would give them an advantage in the global marketplace and so you have a slew of very, very wise and sound policies economically that really made the country very wealthy rewarded you know, economic industry kept taxes reasonably low and allowed for you to really build Singapore into this economic powerhouse that then when combined with their seriously tough on crime policies has made the place a wonderful place to live," he continued.
Posobiec is particularly interested in what the New Right can learn from Singapore, noting that there is a conflict between the ideas of being tough on crime and the First Step Act, which calls for more rehabilitation for criminals as opposed to punative measures. Singapore has taken a decidedly punative approach.
"Are we the people that are saying that we want to be tough on crime or are we the people who are saying that we support the First Step Act? Because it seems like we're trying to do both at the same time right now and I don't think that makes sense," Posobiec said.
Singapore offers harsh penalties for low-level crime, while many cities in the US, including DC as Posobiec points out, are minimizing and in some cases eradicating penalties for low-level crimes. In New York and DC, turnstile jumping is barely ever enforced, with people able to steal subway rides with impunity.
California passed a law decriminalizing loitering, which has essentially reduced the ability of police to intervene in prostitution, or even to prevent human trafficking. In New York, police are no longer able to stop people for minor infractions, which was called "broken windows policing." The idea of stopping these low-level crimes was not to prosecute people for doing small crimes, but were meant to be a point where police could intervene before larger crimes took place.
"The broken windows theory stems from the work of two criminologists George Kelling and Wilson, who suggested that a minor disorder like vandalism acts as a gateway to more serious crimes. By focusing on small offenses often referred to as quality of life crimes. Kelly Mendelsohn fought with violent crime and other undesirable activities were decreased," Posobiec explained. "When Giuliani attempted to put enacted this policy, put it into practice, did it work?"
It did work, and when Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York and took aim at lower level offenses, crime went down across the city, and quality of life decidedly increased. This went on until Bill de Blasio came into office, disrupting and reversing these efforts, leading to a decrease in that quality of life.
"What we've enacted," Posobiec said, noting that many prosecutors in these Democrat-led, crime-ridden cities were backed by major Democrat donor George Soros, "is doing the opposite. We're doing the exact opposite right now."
"Our hometowns," he said, speaking of Philadelphia and Chamberlain's San Francisco, "are experimenting with the opposite of this, and it's a free for all. It's a free for all of death and murder and blood, of people, of children in many cases. And it seems like we're not even allowed to talk about it."