"He tried to train two would-be hangmen to replace him, a Malaysian and a Chinese, both in the prison service," the colleague said. "But when it came to pulling the lever for the real thing, they both froze and could not do it. The Chinese guy, a prison officer, became so distraught he walked out immediately and resigned from the prison service altogether."
On the day before his execution, Mr Singh will lead him to a set of scales close to his death-row cell to weigh him. Mr Singh will use the Official Table of Drops, published by the British Home Office in 1913, to calculate the correct length of rope for the hanging.
Mr Singh joined the British colonial prison service in the mid-1950s after arriving from Malaysia. When the long-established British hangman Mr Seymour retired, Singh, then 27, volunteered for the job. He was attracted by the bonus payment for executions.Singh holds a world record for single-handedly hanging the most men in one day — 18, in 1963 — and was an accomplished cricketer in his youth, a skill which has, in the past, translated into caning prisoners. He is now retired, but executes convicted prisoners by special arrangement.
His next client is likely to be convicted Australian drug trafficker Van Tuong Nguyen, assuming the last-minute pleas for clemency don't succeed (which they are rather unlikely to). (Aside: why exactly are Amnesty International devoting their resources to campaigning for clemency for him? Aren't there political prisoners, civil-rights campaigners and such being imprisoned and tortured across the world? Everybody knows that Singapore automatically executes anyone caught in possession of more than a few grammes of heroin. Nguyen was caught several orders of magnitude over the limit; which means that he took the calculated risk of smuggling heroin through Singapore. Surely campaigning for clemency for short-sighted opportunists whose luck happened to run out (not to mention heroin traffickers) is not the best use of Amnesty members' dues.)
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