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Singapore-style caning deterrent to crime: NPC delegate

More than 30 countries worldwide have judicial corporal punishment but China is not one of them yet. Photo: AP

A Singapore-style system of corporal punishment should be introduced on the mainland as a deterrent to crime, a Guangzhou delegate to the National People’s Congress has proposed.

Chen Weicai, head of personnel at the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau’s political affairs department, said during a provincial NPC session that “strict punishment” was needed to solve rising crime in the city, a trend that was also reflected on a national level, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported Wednesday.

Pointing to Singapore’s low crime rate, Chen said the city-state's “caning” practise was a more effective long-term deterrent to violent crime than the death penalty, which he said was only just “one aspect” of punishment.

Chen proposed that only male offenders be lashed with a cane across the buttocks. The number of lashes and the intensity with which they are administered would depend on the severity of the crime.

He suggested caning as a punishment on an “instalment” system, in which “if you’re sentenced to be caned six times but you faint after accepting two, no problem, you can go home and accept the other four in the next six months”.

“This long-term shock and awe will ensure one does not dare break the law again,” Chen said.

Chen said that Singaporean girls used to find ideal husbands based on whether they had scars on their buttocks. Those who had been caned, they knew were criminals, but were usually a “good catch” as they did not dare to break any rules.

However, some lawyers are appalled at the idea, calling caning a violation of human rights and a breach of the spirit of modern law. "China began to abolish cruel physical punishment in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). Reintroducing flagellation as a punishment is retrogressive, as progressive law enforcement highlights humanity," Si Weijiang, a lawyer with Shanghai DeBund Law Offices, told the Global Times, adding that criminal law in China is strict enough and there is no need to introduce new, savage punishments, Si said.

"Introducing flagellation would show our law condones violence, which in return could cause the crime rate to increase not decline as some people think," Wu Di, a lawyer from the Shanghai Hengye Law Firm, told the Global Times.

More than 30 countries worldwide have lawful use of judicial corporal punishment, many of which are either former British colonies or under sharia law.

Chinese netizens could not tell whether Chen's proposal was serious, but reactions on social media were mixed.

“This is definitely not a good idea…we do not want to go back to the ancient times again,” wrote one user on Sina Weibo.

“I’m definitely in favour of the introduction of caning, for murderers, rapists, robbers but most of all for corrupt officials,” another said.


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