Real deal behind abolition
Huang Juei-ming’s (黃瑞明) stance is clear (“Germany’s path toward abolishing executions,” March 13, page 8) in that he supports the death penalty. However, we see no argument in his article that would support its legitimacy.
Since resuming executions last year, has public security improved in Taiwan? Have the perpetrators in the Taichung shooting incident or in the attack on Sean Lien (連勝文) been deterred by the death penalty?
Instead, Huang assumes the role of an historian. By selectively distorting historical details, he attempts to deal a blow to the legitimacy of the movement to abolish capital punishment.
The road to positive historical developments, such as human rights or democracy, has often been full of twists and turns and success came when conditions were ripe. Isn’t Taiwan’s road to democracy the best example?
Was Germany’s abolition of the death penalty an accidental feat of diehard Nazi sympathizers as Huang suggests? It may have been a consideration for the small right-wing Deutsche Partei (German Party), which held a minute number of the 65 seats in the Parliamentary Council, the postwar predecessor of Germany’s current parliament. The formal motion, however, was put forward by Social Democrat Friedrich Wagner.
The Social Democrats had a long abolitionist tradition and had also suffered political murder at the hands of the Nazis. Therefore, they sought to safeguard against the use of the death penalty as a political weapon and the motion was finally passed with the help of the Christian Democratic Union.
Huang also refuses to acknowledge the long history of the abolitionist movement in Germany that dates back to the 1848 revolution when the goal of abolition was included in the drafts of the Prussian Constitution and the Constitution of the national parliament in Frankfurt. In 1870, an abolitionist motion was passed on its second reading, but was overturned on its third reading.
In 1918 and 1927, Germany’s left-wing parties again tried to abolish the death penalty. Last but not least, Konrad Adenauer, the chairman of the Parliamentary Council and first chancellor of West Germany, had been persecuted by the Nazis. He had been suspended from office as mayor of Cologne in 1933 and was arrested in 1934 and again in 1944 when he probably just narrowly escaped with his life. What motivation would he have to save Nazi criminals?
Far from being accidental, abolition of the death penalty in Germany was rather the culmination of a long-term development, as it has been in most other democratic countries in the world.
Huang says that 80 percent of the German population supported the death penalty in 1949, but then complains that a majority of Germans nowadays clearly support abolition. How did this huge reversal come about?
Experience has demonstrated that capital punishment does not bring about a higher degree of public safety, as there is no correlation between the murder rate and capital punishment. Rather, the murder rate is determined by a multitude of socioeconomic factors.
More importantly, our inalienable right to life should never be subject to opinion polls, just as the right to a fair trial should never be replaced by a lynch mob (“Abolishing executions safeguards our rights,” April 9, page 8).
Indeed, inalienable human rights exist to protect citizens from the ebbs and flows of public opinion, changing governments and concepts of justice. For Huang to write that “the way Taiwan is acting is more in line with the practices of a democratic nation” is a very surprising statement from a law professor, who should know better that fundamental human rights are not subject to opinion polls.
Therefore, it is extremely deplorable that Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) went ahead with further executions shortly after the widely publicized case of Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶) who was wrongly executed in 1997. As long as the death penalty exists, further cases of wrongful executions are bound to happen.
In the words of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, whose state recently became the 16th in the US to formally abolish the death penalty: “Since our experience has shown that there is no way to design a perfect death penalty system, free from the numerous flaws that can lead to wrongful convictions or discriminatory treatment, I have concluded that the proper course of action is to abolish it.”
When Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping (習近平) wakes up one morning and decides that his People’s Liberation Army (PLA) can win a war to conquer Taiwan, that is when his war will begin. To ensure that Xi never gains that confidence it is now necessary for the United States to shed any notions of “forbearance” in arms sales to Taiwan. Largely because they could guarantee military superiority on the Taiwan Strait, US administrations from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama practiced “forbearance” — pre-emptive limitation of arms sales to Taiwan — in hopes of gaining diplomatic leverage with Beijing. President Ronald
Communist China’s Global Times warned US President Joe Biden in the first week of this month that he “should make a significant response to China’s sincerity within his first 100 days, as the sincerity and patience will not last forever.” In fact, they lasted only days. By the end of the week, Beijing had laid down the law, so to speak, to the Biden administration. First was a speech billed as a “Dialogue with National Committee on US-China Relations,” by Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪), director of China’s Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs. Yang said he was pleased “to have
Three years ago, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) raised quite a few eyebrows when she proposed abolishing Taiwan’s zhuyin fuhao (注音符號, Mandarin phonetic symbols commonly known as “Bopomofo”) system in her bid to become Tainan mayor. Yeh did not make it onto the ballot, and it was not clear how she would have begun to implement such a gargantuan change locally. Not only is Bopomofo learned by all schoolchildren in Taiwan, it is the most popular system for typing Chinese in the nation, despite being considered one of the least efficient input methods. Bopomofo has also become
The Canadian parliament on Monday passed a motion saying that China’s human rights abuses against the country’s Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang constitute “genocide.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far avoided using the word genocide in regard to Xinjiang, but if he did, it would begin to generate solidarity among G7 nations on the issue — which is something Trudeau has called for. Former US president Donald Trump used the word genocide regarding Xinjiang before leaving office last month, and members of US President Joe Biden’s administration have been pushing for him to make the same declaration, a Reuters report