Talk:Australian man to be executed in Singapore

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POV[edit]

This article seems strongly anti-death penalty to me. I suggest comparing the rate of drug use in Singapore with other nations to see if the death penalty is effective. Also, whether Van was aware of the death penalty and chose to smuggle drugs into Singapore anyway would be good to know. There are two Australian sources (Australian Broadcating Corporation, The Australian) and two anti-death penalty sites (Amnesty International, Foreign Prisoners Support Service) listed, but none I can identify as from Singapore or from pro-death penalty sources. This shows POV bias. StuRat 19:12, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

The Singapore government are "Pro-Death Penalty" already. There are also 2 Singapore news agencey sources cited: MediaCorp Press Ltd and The Malaysian National News Agency. Also I've added: "Singapore argues that there was no international consensus that capital punishment should be abolished. At the most recent meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 66 countries dissociated themselves from a resolution calling for the abolition of capital punishment." Hope that suffices... :) --elliot_k 04:37, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

Silly me, I thought the Malaysian National News Agency was from Malaysia, not Singapore, I wonder how I came to that conclusion ? I also discovered that "The Age" is Australian, so that means there are 5 Australian or anti-death penalty sources and only 1 Singapore or pro-death penalty source (MediaCorp Press Ltd). That still seems rather seriously lopsided to me. The Singapore government may very well be pro-death penalty, but you haven't cited any government publications as sources, so that's quite irrelevant. Also note that the pic shows him in a suit and tie, looking rather respectable, versus a shot with the drugs strapped to his body or even a mug shot, which would show the other side. Incidentally, the title is not POV, it only stats the facts with no bias...nice job on that. StuRat 05:03, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

Sorry if Mr Ngyuen is wearing a suit and tie. There are just no other pics i can find. Thats the one from Wikipedia. But I can't grasp why its "irrelevant" that the Singapore gov are pro-death penalty. Its an obvious conlusion I'd have thought, since they are the mob about to kill this man. What sorts of "government publications" should I have included? Confused and a little stupified. --elliot_k 05:26, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

Another thought for a balancing picture would be a stock shot of a heroin junkie shooting up. A Singapore junkie would be best, but any would do. StuRat 01:49, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
Well, not being able to find sources to balance a story is always a problem, that's true. Note that removing the excess of anti-death penalty sources is an alternative to adding more pro-death penalty sources. Particularly, I would remove the two anti-death penalty organizations (Amnesty International, Foreign Prisoners Support Service), and perhaps pare down the Australian sources to just one, to match the one Singapore source. You could leave the two "nuetral" sources, from Malaysia and the US, neither of which have a vested interest in the outcome. That would give you 4 sources, which is plenty. Of course, if you have info from removed sources, that would also need to be removed or found in another source.
It's irrelevant, during a discussion of balancing sources, if anyone is pro-death penalty, if you haven't listed them as a source. It would also be irrelevent if anyone is anti-death penalty, in said discussion, of you didn't list them as a source. Perhaps a discussion of their justification for the death penalty, with drug statistics, might exist from the Singapore government. StuRat 05:38, 20 November 2005 (UTC)
Since when does the country in which a news organisation is based have anything to do with their neutrality? What makes you assume that a US based source is "neutral", but the Singaporean or Australian news organisations are not? What are these "vested interests in the outcome" of which you speak? - Borofkin 22:40, 20 November 2005 (UTC)
In any conflict between nations, news sources from those two nations can be assumed to take the side of their respective nations. There may be exceptions, to be sure, but that will be the general pattern. Nations not directly involved in the conflict can be assumed to be comparatively neutral. For example, during WW2, I wouldn't have expected neutral reporting from the combatants on either side, but perhaps I would from those who were not involved in the war. StuRat 00:17, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
This is hardly a war. And besides, the US is non-neutral when it comes to the death penalty, so shouldn't we expect news sources from this country to be biased? Regardless, my point is that it is is the article that has to be NPOV - I don't see why we should be attempting to achieve balance in the sources, especially between news organisations. They are used as sources for information that we present in the article as being factual. If the aticle is balanced, then who cares where the facts came from? If you are going to dispute that a certain statement is factual, then that is a different story. - Borofkin 00:29, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
Actually, some US states allow capital punishment while others have banned it, with only Texas having substantial numbers of executions. NPOV doesn't just demand that facts be supported by sources, but rather that a roughly equal number of facts, quotes, etc., be provided from both sides of the issue. If the sources are heavily biased toward one country or one opinion, I would expect the facts and quotes provided to be similarly biased towards the POV of that country and that opinion. Note that I am not saying that Australian and anti-death penalty sites shouldn't be used, but only that they should be balanced by a roughly equal number of Singapore and pro-death penalty sites, so the article contains an even balance of opinions (although I would prefer that strictly pro-death penalty or anti-death penalty sites be left out all together). The US and Malaysia just don't enter into the balance, since they aren't on either side of the debate over this particular execution. StuRat 02:02, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
StuRat said: "If the sources are heavily biased toward one country or one opinion, I would expect the facts and quotes provided to be similarly biased towards the POV of that country and that opinion." So? As long as *we* are presenting a balanced view of the debate, the perceived bias in the sources is irrelevant.
StuRat said: "but only that they should be balanced by a roughly equal number of Singapore and pro-death penalty sites, so the article contains an even balance of opinions" You seem to be suggesting by this statement that if there is an imbalance in the sources, then there will be an imbalance in the article. This is not the case - a source may be listed because it provides one tiny little piece of information. It is impossible to tell by looking at the list of sources how much of the information in the article came from each source.
It is possible that 5 times as many quotes and facts could be taken from the sole pro-death penalty source as each of the 5 anti-death penalty sources, to even things out, but this is not the case in this article. See my analysis at the bottom. StuRat 01:28, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
StuRat said: "although I would prefer that strictly pro-death penalty or anti-death penalty sites be left out all together" Why? I would have thought that a strictly anti-death penalty site (such as Amnesty International) would be the perfect place to source an anti-death penalty opinion. - Borofkin 04:38, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
I would prefer it, since sites which push one POV over all others, in my opinion, tend to play loose with the facts, and will say whatever will support their case, whether it is true or not. A reputable news organization is less likely to do that than a "special interest" site. I wouldn't trust gun statistics from the National Rifle Association (a pro-gun group) for the same reason. I trust Australian news orgs not to lie to support their POV, although they might "cherry-pick" facts that support their POV. This is a lesser problem which can be more easily dealt with by using equivalent sources on the other side (Singapore). StuRat 01:14, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
Who cares if they play loose with the facts? Our job is not to determine what is true or not, it is to present the debate. "Amnesty international says such-and-such, however the Singaporean government rejects this, and they say such-and-such". It makes no difference whether "such-and-such" is factually true or raving propaganda. It is the fact that they said it that we are reporting. - Borofkin 01:19, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
We should try to choose the most accurate sources we can find. We shouldn't quote the National Enquirer, for example, when they claim Elvis has married a Sasquatch woman and they are raising a family in Antartica. StuRat 01:33, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
I realise that. Amnesty International is the most accurate source available regarding what Amnesty International thinks about the death penalty. The National Rifle Association is the most accurate source available regarding what the National Rifle Association thinks about gun control. - Borofkin 01:39, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes, and the National Enquirer is the most accurate source available regarding what the National Enquirer claims Elvis is doing at any given time. That doesn't mean we need to use WikiNews as a platform for their wacky opinions. The fact that an anti-death penalty site opposes a death sentence is hardly news, is it ? If they were to all of a sudden turn around and support a death sentence, now that might be news. StuRat 02:01, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
Amnesty International and the Singaporean government are major players in the death-penalty debate, so their opinions are significant and relavent. The National Enquirer is not a major player and therefore it's opinions are not as relavent (although that doesn't mean that they necessarily shouldn't be included in a Wikinews article). Note that reporting on the National Enquirers opinion on an issue is not the same as using the National Enquirer as a source for a fact relating to an issue. - Borofkin 03:55, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
The reason I used these sources was to identify/corroborate everthing which has been written in my article. The story is about an Australian man. It is major story news here in Australia. The article opens with the Rally in Melbourne. The story focuses on the situation of an Australian man facing the death penalty. It is to be assumed that Singapore is Pro Death Peanalty... --elliot_k 05:40, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
It involves Singapore at least as much as Australia, since the crime, arrest, trial, and execution all happened/will happen there. It isn't mentioned in the article, but is the man also of Singapore birth or ancestry ? If so, it also involves Singapore in that respect. So, to base it primarily on the Australian POV and not present the balancing Singapore POV is unfair. If the article was titled "Australian anti-death penalty rally in Melbourne", and only mentioned Van in passing, you might have a point. As is, however, the article is primarily about the execution, not the Australian protest movement, so should present both sides equally. StuRat 01:02, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
"So, to base it primarily on the Australian POV and not present the balancing Singapore POV is unfair." - this is new. Are you suggesting that the article itself is POV? Do you think that the POV of the Singaporean government is not adequately represented in the article? Note that it is not possible to determine such a bias by looking at the sources, but it is possible by looking at the article itself. - Borofkin 01:25, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes ! I believe my very first sentence stated that: "This article seems strongly anti-death penalty to me." I was using the ratio of sources as an indicator of bias in the article itself. But, since you reject that, I have painstakingly broken down the entire article by pro- and anti-death penalty statements and pictures below...
Right. Now we're getting somewhere. I've reviewed your analysis of the article, and acknowledge that more article space is devoted to opinions and comments opposing the execution of Mr Nguyen than supporting the execution of Mr Nguyen. However, I don't believe that this necessarily relfects bias. It may be that there are more people and organisations in the world that oppose the execution. Do you think that the POV of the Singaporean government has been represented fairly? Is there anything missing from the Singaporean POV? - Borofkin 02:17, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes, an equal volume is missing: An equal number of quotes, an equal number of pictures, and equal number of facts on their side of the argument, etc. For example, there is no mention of the number of deaths caused by drugs smuggled into Asian nations each year or the number of lives destroyed by those drugs. StuRat 02:39, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
Why should there be an equal number of quotes, facts, etc? You seem to be reducing news to mathematical forumulas. "there is no mention of the number of deaths caused by drugs smuggled into Asian nations each year or the number of lives destroyed by those drugs," This is a little more specific, which is a Good Thing when it comes to NPOV debates. Remember, however, that it is an article on a specific execution, not a general article on the death penalty. Has anyone argued that Mr Nguyen's execution is justified because he was contributing to the deaths of innocents? If not, then I don't see why it is Wikinews' responsibility to make this argument. - Borofkin 03:19, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
I believe the statement that the drugs he delivered would provide 26,000 doses to drug addicts was a step in that direction, but was not followed up by a statement of the effect this would have on the population. I have listed many other specifics, like the need for a balancing picture (I even made several suggestions), the need to compare the rate of drug use in Singapore with other nations to see if the death penalty is effective, and whether Van was aware of the death penalty and chose to smuggle drugs into Singapore anyway. StuRat 03:30, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
As for your statement that this is not an article on the death penalty in general, that would seem to require the removal of many statements which are general opposition to the death penalty, in Singapore, such as these:

"What's happening is brutal, is inappropriate. I, and the Victorian Government, vehemently oppose the death penalty in any circumstances", he told ABC Radio.

Mr Lex Lasry, QC, who heads Nguyen's Melbourne legal team, recently told Singapore's high commissioner in Canberra that the "regime" of the mandatory death penalty would have to change.

"At some point, the Singapore Government must realise as a First World country it can no longer continue to impose mandatory death sentences. They simply can't keep doing this to people," he said. He described as an "outrageous injustice" the Singapore law that denies lawyers the chance to argue to a judge why a client should not be hanged.

"Let the rest of the world know we are not prepared to tolerate it and ultimately they will have to change their minds," he said.

"...the campaign against Singapore's mandatory death sentence will continue," Mr Lasry said.

Your idea that a POV bias is permissable if it matches the POV bias in the world in general is interesting, but I haven't heard this before. Is this an actual policy ? I wouldn't think it would be very workable as it would require that we know the POV of the world on each issue. We might actually be able to guess at it here (based on the number of countries which permit executions times their respective populations, compared with the world population), but we certainly wouldn't know the world opinion in many other cases. Also, it could be argued that, since our audience is the English-speaking world, we should only consider the English-speaking world's opinion. StuRat 02:49, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
NPOV does appear to be a fuzzy and difficult to implement concept - that's why I generally prefer people to edit the article directly rather than declare on the talk page that the article is POV. When a person edits directly, everyone can see what it is that they think is wrong, rather than having to assume or extrapolate from talk page comments. When two editors of the article come into conflict, then they should debate on the talk page (rather than engaging in an edit war). Regarding this comment: "matches the POV bias in the world in general", isn't that our goal? To present the way the world is in a news article? - Borofkin 03:25, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
An argument could be made for it, but, like I said, I don't believe that is current WikiNews policy due, in part, to the difficulty in implementing such a policy. The current policy, as I understand it, is that all opinions should be represented EQUALLY, meaning roughly 50% of the facts, quotes, opinions, pictures, and sources should be on each side of a two part debate. StuRat 03:48, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
I challenge you to direct me to the policy page that states what you have said here. - Borofkin 03:51, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
Here are the relevant passages I found at [1]:

Anglo-American-centric point of view (I assume this extrapolates to Australians, as well, unless there is a POV bias in the NPOV policy, LOL)

Wikinews seems to have an Anglo-American focus. Is this contrary to the neutral point of view?

Yes, it is, especially when dealing with articles that require an international perspective. The presence of articles written from a United States or British perspective is simply a reflection of the fact that there are many U.S. and British citizens working on the project, which in turn is a reflection of the fact that so many of them are online. This is an ongoing problem that should be corrected by active collaboration from people from other countries. But rather than introducing their own cultural bias, they should seek to improve articles by removing any examples of cultural bias that they encounter. This is not only a problem in the English Wikipedia. The French Wikipedia may reflect a Continental French bias, the Japanese Wikipedia may suffer from Japanese bias, and so on.

This came as a surprise to me, it actually seems to support your view:

"If we are to represent the dispute fairly, we should present competing views in proportion to their representation among experts on the subject, or among the concerned parties."

So, since I know of no way to poll "experts on the death penalty", that leaves us with the proportion of the concerned parties, being Australia (20,090,437) and Singapore (4,425,720). Amazingly, this seems to be the exact 5:1 ratio of bias in this article and the sources. I strongly disagree with this policy, as it means things like the Chinese invasion of Tibet and subsequent massacre should be portrayed overwhelmingly as a good thing, since there are so many more Chinese than Tibetans (especially after the massacre). But, since it seems to be policy, I guess we are stuck with it. Of course, if Australia ever has a dispute with the United States (300,000,000), this means that 93% of the article should be written in support of the US POV and only 7% from the Aussie POV. I look forward to that ! StuRat 04:25, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
Actually, a majority of Australians support the death penalty in some circumstances, and I suspect that a significant number of Singaporeans would be opposed to the death penalty. You are trying too hard to quantify. The "concerned parties" are: Mr Nguyen and associates (mother, lawyer, etc), the Australian government, the Singaporean government, human rights groups, Australian public opinion (as determined by opinion polls, talkback callers, etc), Singaporean public opinion (same). The article needs to represent these points-of-view in appropriate proportions. The Singaporean government deserves a lot because they are the ones who are responsible for the execution, and Australian talkback callers deserve very little, because they are mostly a bunch of crackpots. To calculate the population ratio between two countries and then argue that this should be reflected in the number of words in the article is a total misunderstanding of NPOV, IMO. - Borofkin 04:55, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
I certainly hope that you are right and I misintepretted it, since it seems like a really stupid policy otherwise. Let me ask you to state your opinion. Do you think the current 5:1 ratio of anti-death penalty POV to pro-death penalty POV is the proper ratio ? If not, what ratio should we aim for ? StuRat 05:18, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
My position is that there is no proper ratio. The POV of the Singaporean government has been represented in the article, in a way that I consider adequate. If another Wikinews contributor does not consider it to be adequate, then I have no problem with them expanding on it. I think such an expansion would certianly enrich the article. - Borofkin 05:32, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
I also think family members of current or potential heroin addicts in Singapore should be given a strong weighting in any debate over how to best stop drug smugglers from destroying their families. I have seen none of that mentioned here. StuRat 05:21, 23 November 2005 (UTC)
I think you're trying to push this news story into the realm of news analysis rather than news reporting. The story here is that this man is going to be executed for a particular crime, and this man's home country is in an uproar over it. We don't have to justify anyone's argument one way or another. We just have to report it. Given that "current or potential heroin addicts" don't have a direct stake in this story (indeed, such a wide net encompasses the entire population of Singapore), they don't need to be represented here. Unless, of course, a subsegment of that population does something newsworthy that is associated with this article, i.e. stage a protest in support of this man's death sentence. - Steve T
If you were to add something like that to the article I wouldn't have a problem with it, although I don't think that the article is biased without it. - Borofkin 05:32, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

POV analysis of article by StuRat[edit]

Following is a break-down of pro- and anti-death penalty content (neutral content was left out). I think it closely matches the 5 to 1 ratio of the sources, in bias towards the anti- side. StuRat 01:33, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

A N T I - D E A T H   P E N A L T Y   C O N T E N T 

Supporters of convicted Australian drug trafficker, Van Nguyen, gathered outside the State Library in Melbourne yesterday to display thousands of messages of opposition to his death sentence.

Callers to talkback radio in Melbourne were overwhelmingly against the death penalty of Nguyen, who immediately admitted his guilt and has cooperated with authorities since being caught smuggling heroin into Singapore. Many called for a boycott of Singaporean products.

File:Nguyen Tuong Van.jpg
Nguyen Tuong Van. Australian man to be executed by the Singapore Government on DEC 2 2005 for drug smuggling.

Nguyen claims he carried the 396 grams of heroin strapped to his body in an attempt to pay off his brother Khoa's $30,000 legal debts.

Despite repeated pleas for clemency from many thousands of supporters; religious groups; human rights organisations; the Pope; and the Australian Government - including Prime Minister, John Howard - Singapore officials have said Nguyen's execution is irreversible.

Mr Howard had argued that Nguyen should be spared, citing mitigating circumstances in his case which pointed to the fact that he was not a serial drug trafficker but had merely been trying to pay off his brother's debts.

The Victorian Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, says the Singaporean Government has shown no compassion whatsoever in its treatment of Van Nguyen and his family.

"What's happening is brutal, is inappropriate. I, and the Victorian Government, vehemently oppose the death penalty in any circumstances, he told ABC Radio. "This is a young kid who has assisted the police all the way... In any other country, he would get a discount in relation to the penalty. But because there is a mandatory death penalty for drug offences in Singapore, this young man may well be executed. It is just grossly inappropriate."

Mr Lex Lasry, QC, who heads Nguyen's Melbourne legal team, recently told Singapore's high commissioner in Canberra that the "regime" of the mandatory death penalty would have to change.

"At some point, the Singapore Government must realise as a First World country it can no longer continue to impose mandatory death sentences. They simply can't keep doing this to people," he said. He described as an "outrageous injustice" the Singapore law that denies lawyers the chance to argue to a judge why a client should not be hanged.

"Let the rest of the world know we are not prepared to tolerate it and ultimately they will have to change their minds," he said.

"Even if our client is executed as he probably will be, the campaign against Singapore's mandatory death sentence will continue," Mr Lasry said.

Mr Lasry said the fight to save Nguyen would continue over the next few weeks.

P R O - D E A T H   P E N A L T Y   C O N T E N T

"Singapore maintains that capital punishment is a criminal justice issue; it is the sovereign right of every country to decide whether or not to include capital punishment within its criminal justice system," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Singapore argues that there was no international consensus that capital punishment should be abolished. At the most recent meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 66 countries dissociated themselves from a resolution calling for the abolition of capital punishment.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong affirmed Singapore's position by saying that it has to "stand firm on drugs to protect its citizens from the scourge and to ensure the country does not become a conduit for the trafficking of illicit drugs."

In reply to a letter appealing for clemency from his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said: "Mr Nguyen imported almost 400gm of pure heroin which would have supplied more than 26,000 doses to drug addicts."

WN:FAC[edit]

I've nominated this article for Featured article status based on how in-depth it is.

Bawolff ☺☻Smile.png 03:01, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

In Memory of NGUYEN Tuong Van[edit]

Australia, awake from your slumber!

Awake from your slumber, Australia! Awake before it is too late! Today a son of yours has been killed. Don’t you care? Don’t you care, Australia?

Certainly, it is your prodigal son. Certainly, he has wandered away from home. Today, your son has been killed. Don’t you care? Don’t you care, Australia?

Where is your fatherhood? Where is your motherhood? In your warm bed how could you sleep? O Australia, don’t you care of your wandering children?

How many more of them will be killed? Will you leave them to their fate? Will you say it was their fault? Australia, where is your parenthood?

You do not kill your children if they commit fault. How could you let your neighbors kill them? True, you have warned them of the danger. Is that the reason for you to ignore their death?

How could you shake hands of the killers? Was your face veiled by money? Is the business deal with your neighbors more important? Or are you careless about your children’s lives?

How could you keep a big smile with your neighbors? How could you claim your successful reign, When your children are being slaughtered in your sight? Australia, arise from your sleep before it is too late!

Australia, where is your fatherhood? Where is your motherhood? How many more of your children will be killed? Will you leave them to their fate?

Awake, Australia! Awake, before it is too late! What can you tell God about your parenthood? What will you leave in the memory of your children From generation to generation and for ever?

Minh Bui In memory of Van Nguyen A drug trafficker killed by the Singapore Government 2nd December 2005

{{FAC}}