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Once a Jolly Hangman: Singapore Justice in the Dock Paperback – October 6, 2010


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Paperback, October 6, 2010
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 219 pages
  • Publisher: Strategic Information and Research Development; third edition edition (October 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9675832002
  • ISBN-13: 978-9675832000
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,669,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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",

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lung T'ai T'ou on March 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By z on February 8, 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Jess on May 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
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 about it in order to write a cohesive review.

I would have thought that the book was a work of fiction were it not for the ‘non-fiction’ label at the back of the book in the print version.

Back in 2013, former ISD director Mr. Yoong Siew Wah mentioned “the callousness of the Singapore government” on his blog.

This callous and insensitive aspect that is completely lacking in any compassion for humanity, is certainly apparent in Once A Jolly Hangman. The title alone points to the bizarre nature of the system, where the macabre act of hanging a human being is undertaken with joy as if it were a festive occasion and cause for celebration.

Perhaps the most morbid fact mentioned is the “Death Row Diet.”

As it says in the book, “Beyond the walls of Changi Prison hanged prisoners’ organs are worth tens of thousands of dollars each.”

As if this fact of profiting from dead prisoners’ bodies were not deplorable enough, the prisoners on death row who sign the consent form to donate their organs for transplant or research are put on a special regime known as the Death Row Diet. This diet consists of high-quality, nutritious food to “ensure the organs are in perfect condition for transplant after they are hanged.”

Is this not a form of ultimate exploitation of human life, where one profits handsomely from the dead and forgotten?

The other thoroughly disgusting component of the book has to do with the racial bias of the elites.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Fritz Gheen on May 4, 2012
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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