Hard to swallow
Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien has likened the execution of innocent people to accidentally choking to death on stewed meat (“Taiwan to carry out executions ‘soon,’” (Dec. 20, page 1). Since these are accidents, we do not need to ban either stewed meat or the death penalty.
However, the death penalty is not an “accident”; it is much more like forcing the stewed meat down a person’s throat. It is carried out on people imprisoned with no hope of escape or release. Wang also alleges that people in favor of abolition are not concerned about justice for victims.
This is untrue. Those of us opposed to the death penalty have consistently asked for real concern for victims on a long-term basis. We do not believe the execution of another person can solve all the psychological, financial and moral needs of victims. We also believe that the government’s present system of financial recompense is so bureaucratic that many victims are not interested in making claims.
Wang’s view that human nature is like “serpents and fierce beasts” is at variance with the dominant Confucian culture which follows Mencius. It also betrays a failure to appreciate the background of poverty, broken families and unemployment, which are often the circumstances in which emotions get out of control and fatal incidents occur.
The government cannot be expected to improve everything, but it does have a duty to address the socio-economic environment of the poor. Moreover, that is one of the commitments it has undertaken by ratifying the International Covenant on Socio-Economic and Cultural Rights. Wang’s speech shows a basic lack of appreciation for human rights in general.
Clearly, Taiwan needs to improve human rights education for its leaders and save the country from yet another miscarriage of justice, or perhaps Wang would be content to choke on the meat of the death penalty? The logic of his argument presumes so.
New Taipei City
Against media monopoly
The Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada (THRAC) wishes to express our support and admiration for students in Taiwan who are leading the fight against media monopoly by a pro-China ownership group. We call on regulators in Taiwan to reject this takeover by Tsai Eng-meng’s (蔡衍明) cartel.
The domination of Taiwan’s media by a pro-Chinese ownership has frightening implications for the future of Taiwan and should be of grave concern to all supporters of freedom of speech. THRAC is following the situation and is willing to respond to any specific calls to action.
Taiwanese Human Rights Association of Canada