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Once a Jolly Hangman [Kindle Edition]

Alan Shadrake
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When this book was first published in Asia in July 2010, UK journalist Alan Shadrake was arrested and tried, then sentenced to jail—for daring to put the Singapore justice system in the dock. This revised and updated edition covers Shadrake’s arrest, and his ongoing campaign against the death penalty as he prepares for his appeal.

Singapore has one of the highest execution rates per capita in the world. Its government claims that only the death penalty can deter drug dealers from using their country as a transport hub—but this hard-hitting investigation reveals disturbing truths about how and when the death penalty is applied.

Including in-depth interviews with Darshan Singh—Singapore’s chief executioner for nearly fifty years—and chilling accounts of high-profile cases, including the execution of Australian Nguyen Van Tuong, this is an horrific exposé of the gross abuse of human rights.

Editorial Reviews


over the past few decades ,investigative journalism has come to mean the kind of brave reporting that exposes imjustice,wrong doing and above all the abuse of power. --nil

over the past few decades ,investigative journalism has come to mean the kind of brave reporting that exposes imjustice,wrong doing and above all the abuse of power. --nil

over the past few decades ,investigative journalism has come to mean the kind of brave reporting that exposes imjustice,wrong doing and above all the abuse of power. --nil

About the Author

Alan Shadrake (born c 1935) is a British author and former journalist, who was FAMOUS in Singapore in July a day after the publication of his book, Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock, which was critical of the Singapore judicial system.[1] Shadrake, a resident of adjacent Malaysia who formerly lived in Santa Monica, was said by the Government to have "cast doubt on the impartiality and independence of the judiciary",

Product Details

  • File Size: 964 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pier 9 (April 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004W1GQZ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #576,271 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book, not Abshire's History of S'pore March 20, 2011
Let's begin with a question: why hasn't Amazon stocked this title so that we can buy it new? Is it because this book's author is being persecuted in Singapore by that country's ruling party, the PAP? Is it because this book casts a harsh light on Singapore's justice system and Amazon, Inc. does not want to risk incurring the wrath of the PAP by stocking the book?

We note that Amazon has no trouble in stocking Jean Abshire's "History of Singapore," not yet available, but whose index may be read in the "Look Inside" feature of Amazon's pre-order listing of this item. That index is very revealing for what it leaves out: no listing for Operation Cold Storage; no listing for Teo Soh Lung; most revealingly and most shamefully, no listing by name of J.B Jeyaratnam, the Worker's Party opposition member of parliament who for many years took on Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP single-handedly and who suffered an undeserved ignominious fate.

Buy the Shadrake book; not Abshire's so-called History of Singapore.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once a Jolly Hangman February 8, 2013
By z
Format:Kindle Edition
I have had a low opinion of Singapore's government sice I learned that some prisoners can be caned, and my opinion has not improved since I learned more about their poltical and judicial system.

When I read that British born writer Alan Shadrake got imprisoned for six weeks for writing a book criticising Singapore's judicial system, particularly its excessive use of the death penalty, I was disgusted. (Of course his being sent to jail rather proved his point.)

My copy of Once a Jolly Hangman is a revised edition, with a couple of new chapters about the author's arrest and trial.

In the first part of the book, The Jolly Hangman, is an interview with Singapore's hangman Darshan Singh. Alan Shadrake was a brave man to go and visit Mr Singh, and surpringly the author said he found Mr Singh a likebale man (although he dislikes what he does for a living).

The second part is Singapore Justice in the Dock, which looks at a number of cases where people were charged with capital offences in Singapore, starting with Nguyen Van Tuong, an Australian citizen who was hanged in 2005 for drug trafficking. (Most excetions in Singapore are for drug related offences.) But less than three months after Nguyen's execution a woman was arrested in an airport in Australia for drug trafficking, having sucessfully smuggled heroin through Singapore. So the death penalty, at least in this instance, did not work as a deterrent.

Alan Shadrake gives details of cases which ended with the defendent being hanged, and some where they got off more lightly. But the people escaped execution seemed to get off because of who they were rather than because of any mtigating circumstances.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a Westerner who has lived in Singapore--and once found himself under the suspicions of the police--this book had a particular relevance for me. Living in Singapore, you agree to the social pact--and you know deviating from this pact can have dire consequences, literally.

And for most people living in Singapore this works out swimmingly--you sacrifice some personal liberties (recreational drug use, political dissent, chewing gum) for a living standard that is among the best in the world; a clean, safe, well-managed, stylish metropolis.

0f course, if you disrupt this harmonious city, you will be punished. While I was living there, a Swiss national Fricker was caned for graffiting a train car. Singapore's incarceration rate is second highest in the world, trailing only the US. And capital and corporal punishment, if not common, is certainly not uncommon.

0nce a Jolly Hangman details the cases of a dozen people who have committed crimes that were eligible for the death penalty. Each chapter presents a different case, making the book feel more like a collection of essays than a cohesive book (although it makes for easy start-and-stop reading). The cases cover a range of people, from Filipino maids to rich Western expats.

No one should be surprised that wealthy, connected people receive the death penalty less than their poor counterparts (then again, maybe only no Americans should be surprised--it the US, capital punishment is reserved primarily for poor, dumb blacks).

Shadrake is a journalist by trade, and the book reads more like a long magazine article than a scholarly work. The interviews with the executioner himself (in his HDB in Woodlands?!?) was my favorite bit--it added a human element to the executions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What I've always suspected... now fleshed out! May 29, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good and useful read for those who wish to get to know Singapore beyond its squeaky-clean, incorruptible image and reputation. And probably be made essential reading for students or people with a keen focus on human rights issues in Singapore and her role in the geopolitics of the global drug trade. Granted, I am biased for I grew up in that city-state, and for years my dissenting mind have been questioning and sleuthing for these issues that, unfortunately, go almost completely unreported in the government-controlled media. Hence, this book served to be a god-send with the many critical court cases; incidences of human rights abuse and misuse of the judiciary all investigatively fleshed out in an easy-to-read prose. Very few minor inaccuracies asides, I would certainly say that Singaporeans, or ex-Singaporeans, or just anybody interested in scholarly inquiry about Singapore, should take a read from it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
It was very believable and sad to think Singaporians accept these injustices ,no consideration for human life
Published 1 month ago by Norman Leslie
2.0 out of 5 stars So anti-hanging? Why not interview American hangmen?
The author is so hell-bent on furthering his anti-hanging beliefs he loses his objectivity and good sense

When Nguyen was hanged for knowingly bringing drugs into the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by A3
5.0 out of 5 stars good buy
Unable to get this book in singapore, hence i have to make the purchase online. Its a very good biography.
Published 10 months ago by ebene tang
5.0 out of 5 stars Depraved and Disturbing
The contents of this well-researched book were so depraved and disturbing, that it took me several weeks to (1) finish reading the book in its entirety, and (2) gather my thoughts... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ms. Jess
5.0 out of 5 stars A Singaporean living away from Singapore.
It gives you an incredible insight laws and regulations governing Singapore's mandatory death penalty on certain crimes. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Karamdip Singh
2.0 out of 5 stars It promise more than deliver.
Well, if you are an anti death sentence activist, this book is for you. However it describes a few interesting facts about forensic history of Singapore.
Published 21 months ago by Pawel Wagner
4.0 out of 5 stars Revenge is God's, not ours.
The old testament Bible condones death penalty, but it was predicated on a perfect justice system where only the sinless can cast the stone at the guilty. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Chiek
5.0 out of 5 stars good book, and confirmed by singapore's reaction
this writer has done a decent job of describing a harsh legal system, and sadly was persecuted for doing it. definitely worth reading.
Published on June 26, 2012 by Lucky777
2.0 out of 5 stars Informative but not balanced and not very fair either!!
A reader uninitiated with Singaporean life may get the impression that the Singaporean system is totalitarian or at the least corrupt. Read more
Published on November 8, 2011 by Abhilash Nambiar
3.0 out of 5 stars Interenting account of a disturbing side of Singapore
This author is a brave man and endured prison in Singapore for writing this book. We learn the story of a Singaporean Sikh who was the country's chief hangman for decades. Read more
Published on September 23, 2011 by Carno Polo
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