I am currently was watching this debate on Channel U about whether criminals will be given a second chance easily after they are released from jail – this also highlights the fact if Singapore is indeed a forgiving society. Some of the people that were brought into the picture includes Christopher Lee, who was recently sentenced to a jail term of 4-6 weeks for drink driving, failure to render help to victims in an accident and removal of vehicle from site of accident. Of course, the other person in focus is Durai, who unfortunately is down with dengue at this point in time.

Some interesting comments where made during the show. One said that, while Singaporeans are not very forgiving, we are just very forgetful. So, a typical Singapore will probably not forgive a person of his crimes, but because he is forgetful, it will long be gone from his mind. Of course, in the case of Durai, not only will he be forgotten eventually, but also the person who made the peanuts comment. 😛

Another panelist mentioned that some crimes can be forgiven while others cannot. So, in his view, Christopher Lee is worth forgiving while Durai is not, because Durai is aware that he’s doing wrong. The other group of people that he thinks can’t be forgiven are drug abusers.

I have no comments, but I feel that Singapore is not a forgiving society. Singaporeans will always be prejudiced and bear grudges. I remembered that there was this doctor who was reprimanded but was allowed back into the medical services. Almost instantly, an ex-cop wrote to the Straits Times Forums to comment and condemn that the doctor not be allowed back into the medical services. Singapore a forgiving society? Far from it!

Unfortunately, this blaming, unforgiving and judgmental culture has also spread to the primary schools, where teachers can also be quite judgmental. The example that was given was that if something was lost, the first group of people that the teachers will approach would be the EM3 students because the “EM1 students will not do such a thing”.

Another topic that was brought up was the ease of getting employment should ex-convict declare his status during a job interview. I highly doubt so and I am just being frank. It’s a matter of choice. If you are an employer and you have to choose between 2 equally qualified candidates, won’t it be obvious that you will choose the one without a conviction history? (just to side track a little, a doctor once told me that given 2 postgrad medical applicants, they will choose the younger one; which is why I am not applying to Duke-NUS).

Of course my arguments here are weak (and I’d like to support my views) because it’s 330am and my brain isn’t as active as it is in the day. If you feel that Singapore is a forgiving society, I’d like to hear about it.

Also, food for thought: Can jail change a man? No. Only a man’s inner thoughts can change him.



Reader's Comments

  1. SurfsLaYeR | July 20th, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Your arguments are not that weak, cos i agreed with you! Probably because i don’t like Singapore, that is why i wish to emigrate someday in the future(if i have the chance, that is. ) ^~^

  2. jimmy mun | July 21st, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Jean,

    I don’t think it had been established that Singapore is an especially unforgiving society. I think an ex-convict is treated like radioactive in any society. The difference is that, in many societies, ex-convicts are allowed to conceal their jail time.

    Our lack of respect for privacy makes it difficult for convicts to rehabilitate.
    The newspapers have no concept of “presumed innocent till proven otherwise” and happily splash photos of people not found guilty of anything yet. The employers are free to quiz a potential employee if they were charged in a court of law. That is the problem, IMHO.

    Having worked with drug-addicts and other ex-convicts before, I have to sympathize with employers who dare not their business by hiring people with a history. We should tackle the problem in a positive way, and respect those who dare to take the chance.

  3. Elaina | August 19th, 2007 at 7:41 am

    hi i enjoyed the read

  4. BrainFreeze | April 21st, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Whether they are as forgiving or not, I can say Singapore is not as liberal as they are in other nations. To jimmy mun, I can partially agree to what he has mentioned, the word radioactive has prominence within the culture of Singaporeans in their outlook towards ex-convicts.
    But I will say the society’s chancing on to employing ex-offenders are but only a minority. The job scope is narrowed, options are trimmed right down to the minimum. Sighs, a job nevertheless, that’s what they will all say.
    To the rest, I am an ex-convict and I have walked around in those shoes. The people who employs you will want you to fit into their shoebox – restrain, constraint (that is the kind of acceptance and forgiveness I see here.) Jump out of it, their whole perspective changes.

    Food for thought: Can jail change a man?
    Uhm, the system here is intended to deter, bringing change is not a priority.

  5. superbadboyy | July 6th, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    singapore sucks.
    nuff said

  6. F*** Mood | March 30th, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Strongly and totally agreed…. SINGAPORE SUCKZZZZZ….

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