Why don’t we learn from history when the question is a no-brainer? For instance, a recent editorial in a major Canadian newspaper states, “We Need an Opioid Summit.” One could add to this headline, “a Summit that would solve nothing and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.” What we actually need is the perspective of Lee Kwan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore. Unfortunately he’s dead.
Saskatoon police recently disclosed publicly the name and telephone number of a known drug dealer. They warned people that cocaine purchased from the dealer might also contain fentanyl. It could kill them. Last year the Canadian government stated that about 4,000 citizens died from drug overdose. More bluntly, they were murdered by poison by drug dealers, more easily than being murdered by a gun.
What would Lee Kwan Yew, the Founder of Singapore, have done? He would have arrested the dealer and hanged him, a great benefit to society.
Years ago I visited Singapore to interview authorities about its form of justice. Prior to landing by air I was handed a card that read, “Death for Drug Dealers.” Just four words got the message across.
During interviews, authorities mentioned two other words I’ve never forgotten. Namely, they accused western society of being “irresponsibly permissive.” I could not agree more when we are warned by police of the address and telephone number of a drug dealer, and nothing is done about it, except propose a Summit!
Lee Kwan Yew faced a severe drug epidemic in Singapore. He knew something had to be done. He was also aware that if you show your teeth you have to be prepared to bite. It did not take long for drug dealers to realize he was serious.
I applauded Lee Kwan Yew’s approach to crime on my return to Canada. After all, even Aristotle preached that punishment was a form of medicine. But I was criticized by bleeding hearts and those who consider the death penalty barbaric. Others argued tough laws do not deter crime. Don’t try selling this message to Singaporeans.
Justice is swift in Singapore. An Indonesian caught stealing cell phones from his colleagues was apprehended on Tuesday. He was convicted on Thursday, his appeal was processed on Friday and he was deported on Saturday. He will never be permitted to return to Singapore. Hell will freeze over before this happens in North America or before we have a death penalty in Canada.
I’ve been a doctor and an observer of human nature for many years. I have come to believe that some people are not just wicked, but outright evil. And those who add fentanyl to illegal drugs, knowing they will kill, are not fit for this planet. The sooner they’re caught and speedily executed the better.
I was embarrassed to be told by Singapore authorities we North Americans were irresponsibly permissive. But I knew that was the case. I ‘m equally embarrassed that we may spend millions on an opioid summit, when the solution is apparent.
While writing this column something else happened, and I wonder how many readers agree with me on this one. My telephone rang. A foreign voice began telling me something is wrong with my computer. It was the third annoying call of this kind in the last 24 hours.
This person has, to my knowledge, not killed anyone. But whoever it is he is evil. So are those who generously want to send me $50 million from West Bongo in Africa. If I could catch these people I need not tell you what I’d do to them. I’m afraid it would shock you.
As a doctor I do not like to see people die needlessly when I’ve spent hours trying to keep them alive. But I fervently believe that the great majority of opioid addicts are self-made, not doctor-made. And that the hundreds of millions spent at methadone clinics and at a summit could be better used for other medical purposes.
Dr. Ken Walker (Gifford-Jones) is a graduate of the University of Toronto and The Harvard Medical School. He trained in general surgery at the Strong Memorial Hospital, University of Rochester, Montreal General Hospital, McGill University and in Gynecology at Harvard. He has also been a general practitioner, ship’s surgeon and hotel doctor. See www.docgiff.com for past columns. For comments: firstname.lastname@example.org