Capital Punishment in Singapore: A Critical Analysis of State Justifications From 2004 to 2018


This article examines state justifications for capital punishment in Singapore. Singapore is a unique case study because capital punishment has largely been legitimised and justified by state officials. It illustrates how Singapore justifies capital punishment by analysing official discourse. Discussion will focus on the government’s narrative on capital punishment, which has been primarily directed against drug trafficking. Discussion will focus on Singapore’s death penalty regime and associated official discourse that seeks to justify state power to exercise such penalties, rather than the ethics and proportionality of capital punishment towards drug-related crimes. Critical analysis from a criminological perspective adds to the growing body of literature that seeks to conceptualise social and political phenomena in South-East Asia.


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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2020-05-18
Pages:133 to 151
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How to Cite
Yap, A. Y. Y. and Tan, S. J. (2020) “Capital Punishment in Singapore: A Critical Analysis of State Justifications From 2004 to 2018”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 9(2), pp. 133-151. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v9i2.1056.

Author Biographies

Monash University

Ariel Yap is a doctoral researcher and teaching associate at Monash University. Her doctoral research uses historical and qualitative methods to examine the sociology of punishment and political detention in Southeast Asia. Ariel also continues to work in the areas of capital punishment and crime control in Southeast Asia, international law and human rights development, as well as prison linkage projects within Australia, Victoria. 

Monash University

Shih Joo is a PhD candidate at Monash University. Her doctoral thesis examines the experiences of female migrant domestic workers in Singapore and Hong Kong. Using qualitative methods, her research project focuses on the nexus of everyday security, gender, state migration and labour policies, and how this interplay impacts on workers’ access to justice and protection.