The imposition of the death penalty and state-authorised execution should be stopped in this century. It is too barbaric and too repulsive amongst civilised countries such as USA, Canada, Australia and European countries, … We are not living in the Middle Ages and we don’t want to go back in time!
Taking the life of a human being is a crime or a kind of retaliation. It breaches the international covenants that were signed by the Singapore government. It would also be a breach of Singapore’s international obligations to Australia, said by Sir William Deane, former governor-general and former High Court judge.
Punishment is necessary to maintain the order of any society. But this is not the only way to make this world better. Education seems to play a major role to prevent crimes and offences in schools and to rehabilitate prisoners in prisons. Have we done enough?
I believe tolerance is a good way to transform criminals into good citizens. We need more psychologists, more educators, more religion experts, more pastoral care, more classes, more correspondence education in the prisons. Instead of calling them prisons, we could change them into different names, such as rehabilitation houses or rehabilitation hospitals. We need to invest human resources in a long term if we wish to change our society to move in a better direction.
We can tame some animals: dogs, horses, bears, tigers, lions, birds, … Why not human beings? If we fail to change people from a wild state into a cultivated condition, that is our mistake, our government’s problem. We need more experts. We need more budget for youth. Our plan or investment for youth should be for 10 or 20 years in order to create a better life in a better society for future generations. We should not kill a criminal because of our failure to transform him or her. If we fail to tame our horse, or if our horse does not want to follow our instructions, then we need more time, more advices from experts, we must not kill him or her.
Transformation, in my belief, is very important and critical for our society nowadays. Mr Nguyen is like many of us. He has made a mistake, a serious mistake. But this is the first offence in his life and he is young enough to deserve a chance to correct his mistake. I believe every one of us has the ability to transform ourselves and to become better people if we have a chance. Rubbish can be transformed into beautiful flowers if you use a compost bin wisely. The hatred, the anger, the evil, the despair, the jealousy, … all is in your heart. If you know how to transform them, then it will give you energy to help you become a better person.
Killing people, killing even criminals, for any reasons, even in the name of national laws is an abuse of the powerless. Singapore hanged a Filipina domestic worker ten years ago and since 2002, five Indonesian domestic workers were charged with murder and now face the death penalty. What is wrong with your country? The more you kill, the more problems you face! You blow more anger, more hatred, more violence into the heart of your children! What kind of persons will they become in 20 years? The death penalty devalues human life and thereby diminishes your sovereignty.
Peace in yourself gives peace in the world. Your act of killing contributes to the violence in the world. We have too much violence already: bomb suicide, war, terrorists, daily killing, … How can you verify your act of killing to your children, to your students, to your citizens?
As human beings, all of us, we need a open heart for loving kindness. That is our spiritual dimension. We need to call our name correctly. We need to live appropriately as our correct name. As a father, we need to be a good father. As a daughter, we need to be a good daughter. As a human being, we need to act like a civilised human being, no more no less. Our world becomes an interbeing world. There is no individual happiness, but collective happiness, interbeing happiness. If there is somebody in any corner of the world suffering, that is our suffering. If there is a forest fire somewhere in Africa, that is our damage. With the climate change due to global warming, Katrina is the disaster of not only the United States, that is our disaster.
In order to have loving kindness, we need to listen deeply and to look deeply at each event, each person, each circumstance. Understanding and Love will come to you. That kind of energy will help you! You become a human being with its right meaning. Now you have no discrimination. No discrimination between countries. No discrimination between people. No discrimination between good and bad. No discrimination between angel and evil. Because they are all in you, in your heart. Man is not our enemy.
Vinh Nguyen teacher of Footscray City College, 02/12/2005
Ven. Thich Tue Sy is a Buddhist monk and has been a lecturer in philosophy at the Buddhist University of Van Hanh. At this moment he is the Secretary General of United Buddhist Association in Vietnam. He was condemned to death by the People's Tribunal in Ho Chi Minh City, charged with "anti-governmental activities".
The Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism
By Sutra Translation Committee of USA/Canada
This is a revised and expanded edition of The Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism. The text is a compendium of excerpts and quotations from some 350 works by monks, nuns, professors, scholars and other laypersons from nine different countries, in their own words or in translation. The editors have merely organized the material, adding a few connecting thoughts of their own for ease in reading.
There are many religious faiths in the world. Most of the religious faiths started in this world based on some kind of fear. Buddhism however is not based on any concept of fear. It is based on cause and effect. Thus Buddhism is oriented towards the human being and human mind. Why is this? It is because the Teaching of the Buddha very strongly pays attention to human values, nature and the reality of man’s mind. Therefore, we can recognize Buddhism as a man and mind oriented religion.
The aim of this noble gift of Dhamma is to elaborate the greatest and magnanimous qualities of supreme mother in order to wish “Oh our great Mother, may you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana”for Late Mdm (Mrs.) Goh Pek Lian who left us 90 days ago.
At 8.15 a.m. Japanese time, on August 6th 1945, a U.S. plane dropped a bomb named "Little Boy" over the center of the city of Hiroshima. The total number of people who were killed immediately and in the following months was probably close to 200,000. Some claim that this bomb and the one which fell on Nagasaki ended the war quickly and saved American and Japanese lives -- a consequentialist theory to justify horrific violence against innocent civilians. Others say the newly developed weapons had to be tested as a matter of necessity.