Apparently a Kiwi accused of causing grievious hurt and (probably) damage to public property has skipped bail and returned to New Zealand. Facing up to 10 years and caning, Robert Dahlberg decided his butt worth more than the $25k bail and fled the moment he could.
As expected, commenters on TOC’s FB accused the Govt of incompetence in granting bail to a flight risk, and even of licking white men’s asses because the same bail would not have been granted had the accused not been white.
There’re wrong. They’re so wrong it’s embarrassing.
One, it’s not the Govt which was incompetent, it was the judge. I’m pretty sure our govt, through the DPP, would have objected to bail. Why is it critics can’t understand the difference between the Govt and the judiciary? Whether you believe it or not, the govt does not tell judges what to do in criminal cases like these.
Second, and more important: notwithstanding the incompetence of the judge, have those critics thought about why foreigners skip bail and leave the country?
I know these guys feel outraged that someone escaped their just desserts here. But if you were facing 10 years’ jail and caning, wouldn’t you skip bail and jump ship if you could?
The reason foreigners avoid our system of justice is because it is too harsh. C’mon! 10 years in prison, plus caning? That’s what they do in other countries for murderers, drug dealers and rapists. And they don’t even have caning over there!
How do you expect anyone in his right mind to stay and await such punishment?
Instead of focusing on how incompetent the judge was in granting bail to a flight risk without impounding his passport, I would suggest people look at the balance between crime and punishment in Singapore.
While some people may think that it’s unfair to Singaporeans who have to stay here to face trial because unlike foreigners they have nowhere to run, I wouldn’t want anybody, foreigner or Singaporean, to be subject to 10 years plus caning for this kind of crime.
Especially not when our discovery process leaves much to be desired, when the police have so much latitude in conducting their investigations, when accused have no rights to have counsel present during interrogation, and when convictions can be made based on confessions and statements from the accused rather than physical and forensic evidence.
With the odds stacked against the accused, and with cruel and unusual punishment that are three or five times as harsh as anywhere else in the developed world, it would indeed be surprising if any foreigner with a chance to leave would stay behind to face trial.
Hence, much as you curse the incompetence of the judge, do also look at the big picture and realize that Singapore just doesn’t measure up when it comes to criminal justice.