I’m sniffing and holding back my tears, and turned to the side and see my sister’s swollen eyes transfixed on the screen. I may be tearless but I’m crying my hearts out inside, watching the tragic moments unfold before my eyes.
The Australia drama mini-series is called Better Man. Surprisingly, it’s only two parts long, but delivered one heck of a story! It is based on a true story about a 20-year old Australian-Vietnamese boy named ‘Van’, who went to extreme means to lift his family from a financial pit. Unfortunately, he was caught, convicted of drug trafficking in Singapore and sentenced to death. Ultimately, it is a story of faith, love and hope.
The success of this film is due to its capacity to provoke a dialogue with the public. If it wasn’t for this film, I would still have been one of those who will readily condemn any person painted as a drug trafficker in the media without being properly informed about the convicted (“He deserves it!”). A lot of issues are touched in the film but the main one is capital punishment. I am ashamed to say that this is what prompted me to challenge the concept of capital punishment, and not from my belief in the sanctity of every human life.
I have made some strong personal connections with Van, sharing values and characteristics in him that portrays the essence of youth… and youth cut short. Some of my views on Singapore has been disturbed, where before I longed viewed Singapore as a morally righteous and just country. Scenes in my head keep playing on rewind, changing crucial moments for the better. I’ve gained renewed hope for people who work for the greater good and not for personal gain, like the lawyers who took the daunting task of defending Van. I feel that after watching Better Man, I learned that I have a responsibility to better inform myself than rushing into an opinion.
I beg you to watch the episodes here while you still can. And I hope that at the end of it, not only are you crying or feeling upset but also thinking for yourself, asking yourself where you stand when it comes to integrity in the media and justice system.
These are some of what went through my mind after watching Better Man:
Is capital punishment, sentencing death upon a person, fair? Are there certain criminal offences that are more deserving of death? Is drug trafficking equivalent to murder? Why? If wrongly convicted, does capital punishment fail to serve as a deterrent and why? Or does that effectively highlight the fallibility of or possibility of corruption in the justice system in expense of a life? Do you immediately believe that one deserves a particular punishment, even death, only after knowing what one is convicted for without background knowledge of the convicted? Do people who have opposing opinions on a matter, case or issue make you uncomfortable, as if they are forcing their opinions on you? Do majority of the people around you share the same opinions? Are you ready to oppose them when your values are challenged?
What are yours?