Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興), of the Democratic Progressive Party, yesterday said that the local media had distorted his remarks when they reported that he supported caning as a punishment in schools.
Caning, in which a person is lashed by a flexible rattan cane, is employed in Singapore to discipline law-breakers.
The FTV news channel reported that Yang suggested caning as a punishment during a meeting with elementary and junior high school presidents on Monday about campus safety. He made the suggestion after a president complained about juvenile delinquents trespassing and threatening their peers, it said.
A number of civil groups expressed anger and "disbelief" about the reported comments and accused the county government of "going backward."
Yang yesterday said that after hearing the school presidents' complaints at the meeting he had asked them if they thought caning would be a good punishment.
Half of them had raised their hands when he asked if they would favor the punishment, while only one person raised his hand half-way when he asked if they opposed it, Yang said.
"It was merely a quick poll, while caning itself pertains to the judicial arena. The media was mistaken," he was quoted as saying yesterday.
Legislative caucuses agreed last Friday to amend the Educational Basic Law (