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Once A Jolly Hangman

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  140 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Once a Jolly Hangman Singapore has one of the highest execution rates per capita in the world. Its government claims that only the death penalty can deter drug dealers from using their country as a transport hub. This title reveals truths about how and when the death penalty is applied. It exposes the gross abuse of human rights in Singapore. Full description
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Pier 9 (first published 2010)
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3.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  140 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Sep 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: singapore-books
I found this book to be very interesting -- living in Singapore, you live in a bit of a bubble as much of the information discussed in this book is not openly discussed in the media or amongst Singaporeans or expats. Certainly, there were a lot of things that I did not know about the laws here, though I did know they can be very repressive. Without discussion of them in the papers, you don't think about it much. I'm glad I read, though I did find the writing style to not be as scholarly as the w ...more
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book is just like reading some gossip magazines. Alan presumes, thinks and assumes quite a bit in this book. Towards this end of this book, I could even feel he got so carried away in his own self-created thoughts. He has quite a lot of 'someone from somewhere told me reliable information about this and that' which is more to me like 'A little birdie told me this and that'.

Still, I find it rather silly to have this author arrested over a book.
May 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author is a self-promoting sensationalist who calls himself an investigative journalist. He keeps repeating himself and the publishers have apparently not edited this collection of article drafts.

It's an easy read. Somewhat entertaining, but very frustrating if you are looking for a trustworthy and well-written source of the history of Singapore's death penalty.
Jess Scott
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The contents of this well-researched book were so depraved and disturbing, that it took me several weeks to (1) finish reading the book in its entirety, and (2) gather my thoughts about it in order to write a cohesive review.

I would have thought that the book was a work of fiction were it not for the ‘non-fiction’ label at the back of the book in the print version.

Back in 2013, former ISD director Mr. Yoong Siew Wah mentioned “the callousness of the Singapore government” on his blog.

This callous

On the cover it says… true stories form Singapore’s death row.. A personnel account of the abuse in an “undemocratic country” corruption, drug smuggling, intimidation
Economic poverty
I could go on with the one liners of which I am sure that Amnesty international
Have piles of them on there desks
As for others, one mans democracy is another ternary.
Then of course there is the (organ-harvesting)..Of the dead bodies. This practice is on the increase in Europe with some ignorant M.Ps saying that t
Nov 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sad to see that the exposure of Singapore's death penalty practices received such short attention from Shadrake.

Repetitive, pedantic, and horribly edited.
Edwina Shaddick
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given how difficult it is to find data on this in Singapore, it's amazing that this book was written at all. Alan Shadrake tries to convince the reader that the law is not as impartial as it seems, and structures the book as mini-comparisons. First we see the death penalty applied to various cases, often with diplomatic backlash, and then a similar case follows, with a different outcome. I imagine that some of this evidence did not hold up in court because some is provided by anonymous insiders. ...more
Eric Clark
The book has an interesting premise, that the Singaporean judicial system considers a number of factors (such as national origin or wealth) in determining punishment. This thesis, however, is undermined with poor writing and arguments. There is also a focus on how the hangman works in Singapore, as the author received access to him.
Wendy Tako
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Took me 2 years to find a copy of this book because it is banned in my country. I have read it 3 times and it has been interesting every time. Also spoken to the author and he has enlightened me in more way then one.
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once a Jolly Hangman is a book that you can no longer find on any bookstore in Singapore. I had to pick up my personal copy across the border in Malaysia. The book isn't officially banned but bookstores across the island seem to have played it safe, less they incur the wrath of the powers that be.

The temptation to pick up the book heightened towards the end of the trial brought against its British author Alan Shadrake in 2010. The former journalist was arrested and charged for contempt of court
Thaddeus Ng
Dec 27, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'm hoping to get my hands on this book soon. As most of us know, the author of this book is currently in jail in Singapore over some controversial information written in the book.

Hence, though this book is not officially banned in major bookstores in Singapore, most retailers have lifted it off the shelves as a precaution. I am really looking to get a deeper insight into the author's views of the Singapore Justice System.

With a profound knowledge in the system, one can better understand the c
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: educational
Found this book in a used-book sale and got it when my friend told me it was banned I mean, strictly unsold in Singapore bookstores. Once I got started it was hard to put down, as this book is a treasure trove of information that the Singapore government would rather you not know.

One important thing to note is that Shadrake is not a lawyer or an academic. He is an investigative journalist by trade, and thus this book tends to skim deep analysis in favour of rhetorical devices and interviews. A
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling read. I suspect Alan's repetition serves readers who can stop and start throughout the book. Research is obvious though I would have liked references as much as possible.

As for the content, it is entirely reasonable to expect, and as Shadrake has uncovered, what's up with the State, the former colony. As the rest of the world has moved on, matured and become more civilized, it's important that these misgivings enter the public discourse and are read as far and wide as possible maki
Melvyn Foo
Jul 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is disgusting journalism - speculative, sensational, weakly substantiated. The only merit this book has (I'm still irritated I have to give this 1 star instead of half) is its compilation - not even of facts, but of hearsay and gossip. The book does raise some interesting questions, but in a manner so crudely and clumsily that it is more a turnoff than intriguing.

This sums it up: "Mr Shadrake once again displays a tendency to distort his own sources for his own purposes," as per AG v Shadr
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deeply disturbing how they hang people and the reasons behind why they won't stop the practice.

It certainly should make anyone ever considering using drugs in Singapore think twice.

The interview with the Jolly Hangman was eye opening I don't fully understand how one person can do that job and take so many lives and yet remain so positive about life in general, the whole book astounded me and has certainly made me view alot of things in a very different light.

And to those still fighting that long
Paddy Dalton
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating insight into the policies of capital punishment in Singapore and the governments own adherence (or sometimes lack of) to their mantras. A necessary read for anything with an interest in Singapore. Excellently researched and I commend the bravery of the author who was arrested, questioned and charged over this book.
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Book. This book offers a valuable insight to one of the system that was never published in the daily papers and not known to the public. An eye-opener indeed.

I love the part on the exclusive interview with Mr.Darshan Singh. I have yet to see any book or author digging deep into the unknown. Good read!
Meghan Douglas
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting examination of capital punishment in Singapore, a country where execution can be ordered for crimes that we in Australia might consider relatively minor. Interesting reading for human rights activists, expats, Singaporeans, and travellers to this fascinating city-state.
A good reminder to those who live, work or travel to Singapore that beneath all the modern glitz and glamour there lurks a justice system from a past era that has devasting consequences for those who stray to the wrong path.
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shadrake's controversial book is well-researched, well-presented and chilling to the core. It does not matter what your stand on capital punishment is, but the reality behind the glossy exterior of success in this city state is what matter most.
Very interesting perspective on Singapore and Capital punishment. Makes you think.
Sheng Hui
Feb 26, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sensationalistic tripe
Nov 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
investigative journalists look at 'justice' in singapore, includes caes of australian vietnamese Van Nguyen Toung r.i.p.
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting read indeed.
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Jan 24, 2017
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Rahil Devgan
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Jan 23, 2018
Kirk D'Souza
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Charles H. Carter, Jr.
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Nicholas Ow
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Alan Shadrake is a British author and former journalist.