Thu, Dec 07, 2017 - Page 13 News List

A yardstick for caning

A recent petition calling for repeat drunk drivers to be flogged weighs the value of harsh deterrence measures against human rights

By Liam Gibson  /  Staff reporter

A young German man, left, discusses his views on caning repeat drunk driving offenders with Taipei Times reporter Liam Gibson outside National Taiwan University campus last week.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Cardona

The majority of the dozen Taiwanese interviewed by the Taipei Times on Wednesday of last week believe that caning is a justifiable punishment for repeat drunk driving.

“We should strip them bare and flog them in public, men and women alike,” said one pedestrian.

A petition calling for repeat drunk driving offenders to receive corporeal punishment was submitted to a government-funded public policy platform on Oct. 23, and as of press time has garnered over 27,000 signatures. Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) held a public hearing on Friday to discuss the proposal. Two days before the forum, the Taipei Times sampled opinions from passersby in and around National Taiwan University.

“I totally support the proposal,” the same man added. “Humans are emotional animals. If they lose face, they will never do it again.”

One Indian graduate student suggested the government should adopt alternative approaches, such as education campaigns on the dangers of drunk driving.

FINES NOT EFFECTIVE

Yan Tzu-shen (顏子娠), a female nightclub worker and three-time DUI offender, drove her Mercedes Benz into a scooter last month while inebriated, killing the rider, a young bakery owner. The incident has generated heated debate and has been used by advocates as an example as to why caning is needed.

“Fines don’t stop these people, they’ve got lots of money... broadcast it live on television, that would stop them,” said one male pedestrian.

A faculty member said the nightclub that employed her should also be fined for facilitating the crime.

HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTION

Last month Premier William Lai (賴清德) cast doubt over the proposal, saying caning might violate Taiwan’s human rights commitments.

The NTU faculty member seconded Lai’s statement, adding that adopting caning would seriously impact Taiwan’s international reputation as a defender of human rights.

“We don’t use any kind of violent punishment in Germany,” said a German man who was visibly shocked upon hearing the proposal. “I think this would definitely violate human rights.”

Others had a different take.

“The drunk driver violated the victim’s right to life, so why do they deserve human rights?” one woman said.

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