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Anorak | A Ropy Job

A Ropy Job

by | 30th, November 2005

‘IF you are going to smuggle heroin through Singapore, then now might be the best time to do it.

Although you will most likely be caught and sentenced to death, there is a chance you will die of old age before the hangman’s rope does for you.

Singapore’s only hangman, Darshan Singh, has been dismissed. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end for 74-year-old. Surely when his hour came he’d be presented with a gold rope, or whatever it is retiring executioners get for 46 years of diligent service to the state.

But after more than 850 hangings, including a world record 18 kills in one day, the trapdoor has fallen below Singh’s career.

The powers that be were left with no choice after the Australian newspaper published Singh’s name and picture. Singh had been scheduled to bring the full weight of righteous justice to bear on Van Tuong Nguyen, an Australian caught smuggling 496g of heroin through Singapore airport in 2002.

But now Singh’s gone. And the problem is no young blade is ready or able to step into Singh’s shoes, and earn the £129 fee for each successful offing.

Two deputes were, apparently, being trained, but both baulked when the lever needed to be pulled. One was so traumatised by it he has left the prison service.

So unless a hangman can be found, Nguyen looks set to live another day. He may even win a reprieve, after Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard made his fifth plea for clemency to the Singapore authorities.

But what makes a good hangman? Singh was undeniably good at his job. He was also able to justify his actions his last words to every

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