Legislators yesterday clashed over whether whipping should be introduced to deter random slashings, as the nation continues to grapple with how to respond to a series of gruesome attacks earlier this week.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) called for harsher penalties during an Internal Administration Committee’s questioning of Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) over the government’s response to the decapitation of a four-year-old girl in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) on Monday, which was followed by several apparently random knife attacks.
“The proportionality of our laws cannot take care of drug offenses, neurotic disorders and other addictions that directly affect public safety,” she said, adding that the perpetrators of similar random slashing attacks in the past few years had almost never been sentenced to death.
She said the ministry should consider adopting Singapore’s system of whipping drug users, adding that Taiwan’s current drug laws were lax without clear enforcement parameters and funds, enabling numerous “ticking time bombs” to roam the streets.
While the nation might not necessarily end up adopting whipping, the ministry should promulgate a law that increases penalties in a way which could effectively deter such attacks, she said.
In response, Chen said that while whipping would have a “definite deterrent effect,” considering whether to adopt the punishment lay with the Ministry of Justice.
A report presented by Chen focused on measures such as increasing police visibility and school security, as well as improving the reporting system for drug users and those with mental illnesses.
The report drew criticism from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄), who said that the measures were unsubstantial entries in an “essay contest” between government ministries to demonstrate action in addressing the issue.
“This is not something that the laws can solve,” he said, adding that similar policies had been proposed following every random attack in the past few years.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said a better reporting system on potential perpetrators — not harsher laws — was the key to addressing the rise in random attacks.
“The current problem is not whether we have the death penalty or whipping, but rather how we create a security net for our society,” he said, adding that the threat of capital punishment had failed to deter attacks.
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