Letter to the Editor - Time dated 11SEP23

11 Sep 2023

Singapore Ambassador to the United States, Mr Lui Tuck Yew, wrote to TIME in response to their article “Why Some Worry Singapore Drug Executions Aren’t Always Clear-Cut” (4 August 2023).


The full text of Ambassador Lui’s letter is below.


11 September 2023



To The Editor:




Your article presents a misleading picture of Singapore’s drug laws and criminal justice system.


2. You said presumptions place the burden on accused persons to prove their innocence. Contrary to what you say, the Prosecution has to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. The presumptions require the accused to prove facts which are within his knowledge. For example, when a person is found to have drugs in his possession, he is presumed to have known about the drugs and what type of drugs they were.


3. Your article questioned the issuance of the Certificate of Substantive Assistance (CSA). The Public Prosecutor issues a CSA to an accused person who has substantively assisted the authorities in taking down syndicates. The court may then impose life imprisonment instead of capital punishment. The reasons for issuing a CSA or not, are not disclosed. Doing so would primarily benefit criminal syndicates who can then change their operations to circumvent our laws. Further, you claim that in the case relating to Abdul Haleem bin Abdul Karim (Haleem) and Muhammad Ridzuan bin Md Ali, both men had given “practically the same information”, but only Haleem was issued a CSA. This is untrue. The court found that there were material differences in the information provided by both men. 


4. Countries that have taken a liberal approach towards drugs have seen debilitating consequences – more deaths and crime. Singapore’s drug situation is under control and is one of the safest places in the world. You might want to consider for example, what role drugs have, in American life expectancy for males coming down by a year; and how many lives have been lost around the world, through abuse of drugs. The World Health Organisation estimates the figure to be more than half a million in 2019 alone. Singapore has been spared the worst of this, because of our policies. 


Yours sincerely,




Singapore Ambassador to the United States

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