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26 Feb, 2018 17:20

Singapore style: Trump 'loves' idea of executing drug dealers

Singapore style: Trump 'loves' idea of executing drug dealers

As America grapples with its endemic drug problem, Donald Trump reportedly has a soft spot for Singapore’s no-nonsense method of handling offenders. But would such draconian measures fly in the US?

After many years and billions of dollars waging a so-called ‘war on drugs,’ first mentioned by President Nixon in 1971, which seems to have only exacerbated matters, President Trump appears ready to take a more eastern approach to solving the problem.

According to a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2016 approximately 20.1 million Americans 12 years or older were dealing with a substance use disorder. About 2.1 million Americans had an opioid use disorder.

The Trump administration is reportedly considering the feasibility of implementing some features of Singapore’s “zero tolerance” drug policies, which includes capital punishment for drug traffickers.

“He says that a lot,” a senior administrative official who has spoken to Trump about the subject told Axios. “He says, ‘When I ask the prime minister of Singapore do they have a drug problem [the prime minister replies,] ‘No. Death penalty.’” 

“He often jokes about killing drug dealers... He’ll say, ‘You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them.’”

Singapore has its share of tragic stories.

Consider the case of Shanmugam Murugesu. A military veteran and civil servant, he was arrested in 2003 after authorities discovered over a kilo of marijuana in his luggage following a trip abroad. Despite expressions of regret and pledging to reform his ways, the 38-year-old father of twins was summarily executed in 2005. 

Axios, in its exclusive report, cited five sources who have spoken with Trump about the subject, saying “he often leaps into a passionate speech about how drug dealers are as bad as serial killers and should all get the death penalty.”

Trump reportedly commented that he would love to have a law that would grant him the power to execute all drug dealers in America, though he has privately admitted it would be nearly impossible for such draconian legislation to get the green light in the United States.

Kellyanne Conway, who leads the White House’s anti-drug efforts, explained the US leader’s position, saying Trump is talking about “high-volume dealers who are killing thousands of people,” according to Axios. She explained Trump’s position, pointing to the fact that some states execute people for murdering one person, yet a drug trafficker who “brings a tiny quantity of fentanyl into a community” can be responsible for a number of deaths “in just one weekend, often with impunity.”

Short of executing drug dealers, Trump may support legislation “requiring a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for traffickers who deal as little as two grams of fentanyl,” Axios reported.

Of the 64,000 people who died of drug overdoses in 2016, more than 20,000 overdosed on synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse. 

Conway told Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, “There is an appetite among many law enforcement, health professionals and grieving families that we must toughen up our criminal and sentencing statutes to match the new reality of drugs like fentanyl, which are so lethal in such small doses.”

“The president makes a distinction between those that are languishing in prison for low-level drug offenses and the kingpins hauling thousands of lethal doses of fentanyl into communities, that are responsible for many casualties in a single weekend.”

Other ideas being floated by the Trump administration to confront America’s drug epidemic is to demand greater responsibility from pharmaceutical companies, and provide more anti-drug education in the public school system.