|Darren Ng, left, died from a fatal wound to the neck on the night of 30th Oct|
The reason for the strong reaction is easy to understand. The stabbing happened close to home - Downtown East, a holiday resort which most Singaporeans visit. Plus, these teenage boys must be hanged to give a strong signal to people who have the tendency to stab any passerbys looking in their general direction. Many Singaporeans call out with ease for the hanging of these assailants because if it happened to Darren Ng Wei Jie, it could also happen to anyone else. Anyone could become the next target, so let's hang them all to send a strong deterrence signal.
But is the story really that simple?
According to news report, Darren Ng's father told reporters that his son "died because of love for his friends". Mainstream news have all but reported the real story behind the stabbing, which occurred on the fateful night of 30th October 2010, preferring to go along the lines of a simple "staring incident" that caused Darren Ng's premature termination of life.
According to reliable sources, the lead assailant had been serving time in prison prior to the incident. Whether he was the one who actually wielded the weapon used against Darren in not known, but being a member of a certain gang triad, there was animosity brewing with another gang's member in prison, which happened to be Darren's friend. The connection with a certain triad is evident from a picture showing a tattoo on one of the assailant, Tang Jia Min, which was reported in the news.
When the lead assailant came out of prison, he was unable to locate Darren's friend. On the night Darren Ng was assaulted and killed at Downtown East, he recognised Darren's group of 3 as the friends of the enemy he made in prison.
This lead to a confrontation which resulted in a purchase of knives from the nearby supermarket and a mad 500m chase inside the holiday resort. Darren Ng was mobbed and stabbed repeatedly, one of which was fatal - a stab to Darren's throat which ripped his jugular vein. Darren died in hospital hours after the attack.
There are many questions left unanswered from the incident:
- Was Darren Ng murdered or mobbed (with weapons), which resulted in his death? (The implications are important as they decide the charge and sentence of the accused persons)
- Was it really a simple random staring incident resulting in a cold blooded murder?
- Did Darren try to stand up for his gang member friend, which resulted in a confrontation and the mob attack?
- How many of the dozen or so assailants were carrying weapons?
- Was there a real intention to murder Darren, or were the knives use with the intent to cause serous injuries?
- How many other suspects are still at large?
- If 10 men mobbed and caused the death of one person, should all 10 be charged for murder, a crime which carries mandatory death sentence?
- Out of the 4 arrested and charged for murder, who attacked Darren, how many were doing so because their peers were doing it?
Before these important questions can be answered, the unfortunate thing is that the public would have already formed their conclusion to the fate of the 4 who were first arrested, with some even calling for public execution for the "cold blooded murderers".
Such is the ease at which Singaporeans call for the execution of these teenagers when they feel that their security have been compromised, regardless whether murder was the real intent when the assault took place, and regardless whether the mandatory death sentence actually works to prevent these crimes in the first place. This is the reason why the debate on the application of mandatory death penalty and death penalty must not be swept under the rug. Like the court of law, Singaporeans should know both sides to the story before forming a judgment on capital cases.