The national debate on the abolition of death penalty received renewed attention on the heels of the death of an eight-year-old girl after her throat was slashed open by an attacker at her elemanetary school on Friday.
The gruesome nature of the crime sparked public outrage and prompted questions about the efficacy of the nation’s justice system at deterring crime.
Angry netizens flooded the Facebook page of Social Democratic Party legislative candidate Miao Po-ya (苗博雅), a well-known human rights campaigner who headed the legal affairs division at the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty.
Commenting on Friday’s attack, Miao said that the death penalty fails to address the underlying reasons behind acts of murder committed against strangers.
“Extreme cases of criminal behavior indicate that society has become pathologically ill, but public opinion often neglects the true remedy [for the phenomenon] after gulping down the holy water of the death penalty,” Miao said.
She said that extreme cases of violence were often perpetrated by individuals who saw no hope in a society with rampant social injustice and a widening disparity of wealth.
“If we kill only [convicted murderers], but fail to block the paths through which monsters are cultivated, then tragedies are still bound to happen without end,” Miao said.
Netizens accused Miao of lacking empathy with the relatives of the slain girl and of coming to the defense of the suspected murderer.
Taipei City Councilor Wang Wei-chung (王威中) of the Democratic Progressive Party posted on Facebook that he opposed the death penalty, saying that it contravenes two UN covenants on human rights that Taiwan signed into law in 2009.
His page was swarmed by angry commenters, with many saying that they would refuse to vote for him again.
Separately yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he was deeply shocked by the incident and has been grieving for the girl.
Ma said he had spoken to Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) by telephone to instruct the Executive Yuan to notify campus authorities nationwide of a need to heighten awareness and take precautions.
It is of equal importance to probe any motives behind the assault, Ma said.
He also made the point to National Policy Agency Director-General Chen Kuo-en (陳國恩) by telephone early yesterday morning, Ma added.
“The existence of people like the [alleged] killer pose a significant threat to urban public order,” Ma said. “The government must take it seriously and prevent recurrences.”
It is important to take precautionary measures to prevent assaults and to improve society’s ability to deal with such crises when they occur, particularly with a notification system that can ensure that assistance to victims is prompt, Ma said.
Asked to comment on calls for the death penalty to be retained in the wake of the slaying, Ma said that the issue has always been contentious.
Some think that the death penalty does not deter crime, while others believe that abolishing the death penalty could spur crime, Ma said.
The two sides have confronted each other for a long time and it might take some more time to see how public opinion evolves, he added.
Senior judges yesterday met to discuss the constitutionality of a law that makes adultery a criminal offense, before being ordered by Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) to set a date for a constitutional interpretation within the next month. The judges met to discuss Article 239 of the Criminal Code on offenses against marriage and family, after 18 judges had called for a constitutional interpretation of the issue. Taipei District Court Judge Lin Meng-huang (林孟皇) said that while he had previously tried adultery cases and never questioned the law, his feelings changed when trying a case last year involving baseball star Wang
Instead of hating the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), help change it, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said, as he urged young people to join efforts to reform the party. As the nation marked Youth Day on Sunday, Chiang said in a Facebook post that he wanted to remind people that “the KMT used to be very young.” Now, when people think of the KMT, they equate it with older people, he wrote. “Even if [the KMT] is a 100-year-old party, it must maintain a young mentality, and understand what young people want and what they want the KMT to do,” Chiang wrote.
TOO TIRED: Investigators found that the pilot’s lack of alertness could be attributed to a lack of sleep the previous night, when he had slept with his child It was a copilot’s inappropriate operation of the aircraft and the pilot’s insufficient alertness that led to a hard landing of a China Airlines cargo flight on Dec. 13, 2018, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Flight CI6844, a Boeing 747-409 which departed from Hong Kong International Airport, landed on the pre-threshold area of runway L5 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, about 21m before the head of the runway, an investigation report said. The hard landing damaged three runway lights, but none of the personnel on board sustained any injuries, the report said. When approaching the runway, the copilot failed to maintain
DISTRUST WARRANTED? The WHO is under China’s control and has become a useless organization, while data from China cannot be trusted, a Control Yuan member said China’s demand that the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, not be referred to with names like the “Wuhan pneumonia” betrays its lack of confidence in itself, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told lawmakers yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) asked Su, during a interpellation at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, for his view on China’s attempts to redeem its national image in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time