Mon, Jul 09, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Early releases make death penalty more appealing, Ko says

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, left, attends a religious event held by the Global Buddhism Right Heart Association in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The death penalty is supported by the majority of the public in Taiwan and is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, so there should be a mechanism to implement life imprisonment if the death penalty were to be abolished, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said at a religious event yesterday.

The execution of seven people on death row in Japan last week once again stirred up debate about capital punishment in Taiwan — and with several dismemberment cases that shocked the nation last month, politicians were asked about their thoughts on the death penalty.

“I like to study statistics and there is only one public issue in Taiwan that has overwhelming support from the public: More than 85 percent of the public is in favor of keeping the death penalty,” Ko said.

The death penalty is part of Chinese history, and Emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty promised his subjects to put murderers to death when he overthrew the Qin Dynasty, Ko said.

Many countries have abolished the death penalty, especially EU member states, and they often urge Taiwan to follow, Ko said.

“There are cases in which people sentenced to life imprisonment are released about 10 years into their sentences,” which makes abolishing the death penalty more attractive, he said.

Ko was also asked to elaborate on a remark he made on Saturday about former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) having led Taiwan onto a path of democracy “with no way back,” which some suspected might mean that Lee had led Taiwan toward populism.

Lee’s greatest influence on Taiwan’s history is changing the nation’s character, Ko said.

US political theorist Francis Fukuyama in the 1990s claimed that liberal democracy represented the “end of history,” but the founding Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀) argued for the political ideology of “Asian values,” Ko said.

After pondering about Taiwan’s democratic development, Ko said he discovered that it would be impossible for Taiwan to adopt “democracy with Asian values” like in Singapore, because Lee has changed the nation’s character.

As the path has been taken, Taiwan can only use liberal and free methods to solve the dilemmas facing its democracy, Ko said.

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