Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tough discipline

Most people seem to have heard caning is used for punishment in Singapore. I have to admit before we moved here I thought it was a barbaric thing to do and many Western countries have over the years tried to apply pressure to the government to have the practice stopped. However…once you’ve lived here you quickly realise that this is one of the few places where you can walk around the city at all hours of the night without being harassed, mugged or in fear of your life. It’s a common sight to see women walking on their own at night – I’ve often popped down to the local supermarket at 10pm – without any concerns for their safety. There is also no graffiti, no vandalism, and a much higher degree of respect for people than anywhere else I have lived. Not all of this is down to caning of course but I’m willing to bet that if the little bastards who keep spray painting the church in Lochem knew they would get a good wallop if they got caught, graffiti wouldn’t be a problem there. Anyway, I’ve done a bit of research for those of you who are interested in the facts because lots of our visitors have asked about it. The original source is
Interestingly, the article contained this quote: “The idea that criminals might be reformed has been explicitly abandoned, at least by the most senior member of Singapore's judiciary: Chief Justice Yong Pung How has said, "Rehabilitation is something I have never understood [...] Compassion went out the window a long time ago. Now I just deliver justice." ("Hard stand on crime and punishment", The Star, Malaysia, 5 May 1996).” How’s that for a hard line!
For caning the recipient is bent over a wooden frame and their ankles and wrists are restrained. Padding is put over the lower back (to protect the kidneys) and below the buttocks (to protect the genitals) so only the butt cheeks are exposed.

“The Singapore Criminal Procedure Code lays down that 24 strokes is the maximum that can be ordered at any one trial. The strokes must all be inflicted on the same occasion, and not in instalments. The Singapore Prison cane is made of rattan. Unlike bamboo, this is very flexible when wet. In some pictures the soaked rattan appears to be so bendy that it may be understandable that some observers are said to have mistakenly thought the implements were actually leather whips. The size and dimensions of the cane are prescribed by regulation. For adult men it is 1.2 metres long and 1.3cm thick, thus about as long as a broom handle and as thick as a man's little finger. A smaller cane, the "light rattan", is used for boys under 16”.
“There are dozens of offences for which a man might be given the cane in Singapore - from serious violent crimes to some non-violent offences that seem relatively minor in the West but are regarded as serious in Singapore, a highly authoritarian state where the importation and sale of chewing gum is an offence (though not a caneable one) and where people can be prosecuted and fined significant sums for dropping litter, smoking in public places, or failing to flush a public toilet after use."
"Caning in Singapore is mandatory for over 40 different offences. These range from serious crime, such as rape, robbery, or drug-trafficking, to lesser offences - possession of offensive weapons (such as a knife, dagger or sword), vandalism (including spray painting or a second offence of affixing a poster to a wall), or the sale, transport, delivery, or import of fireworks.
Men who enter Singapore illegally or who overstay their visas by more than 90 days automatically receive a minimum of 3 strokes of the cane. In some cases a mandatory minimum number of strokes is required -- up to 15 for certain offences."
"Caning is optional for many further offences including rioting, extortion, living off the earnings of prostitution, manslaughter, and causing hurt. It has also been introduced for a third offence for certain road traffic offences, though there are few reports of this being applied in practice.
Since the 1990s, moreover, the highest courts have been more inclined to impose sentences of caning even where it is not mandatory. Examples are in cases of rape; "road bullying" where grievous hurt results; hiring of persons to assault another; and molesting women.
The Chief Justice has stated that in cases of "outraging the modesty of a woman" (indecent assault), all courts are expected to order a minimum of 9 months' imprisonment and three strokes of the cane if the offence involves touching the woman's private parts.
In a few instances, Singapore legislation requires that male employees be caned for offences committed by a company. The Dangerous Fireworks Act requires that a manager, director or owner of a company which deliberately or negligently imports, delivers or sells dangerous fireworks must be caned.” (Given the Enschede fireworks disaster I can understand their logic here). Prisoners can also be given up to 12 strokes for misbehaving. Those int eh armed forces may also be caned for disciplinary reasons.
“A former employee at the Drug Rehabilitation Unit in Changi prison said six strokes were given for drugs in the urine or for homosexuality (illegal in Singapore), and three for fighting.
The Singapore High Court is empowered to order the cane for boys under 16 although this is rare. In July 1999 the High Court ordered three 15-year-olds to be caned for offences committed while one of them was still only 14 (a rape trial). Three months later the Court went even further, sentencing a boy still only 14 to five years in jail and ten strokes of the cane for kicking and robbing an elderly man. Ten strokes is the maximum for boys under 16 and the caning in such cases is applied with a "light rattan".
If you want to watch an 'educational video' designed to scare kids straight called Prison Me No Way, follow this link for a mock-up of what would happen during a real caning:


Gregory said...

Tough Discipline Singapore Style is what a lot of western men need.When 22 I pleaded guilty and was convicted of unlicenced posession of a firearm and amo and receiving stolen property.Sentence a small fine and minor community service order which I just thumbed my nose at.In Singapore 12 cuts of the cane is mandatory for those types of offences which given to a very white small butted male like me would have done a lot more good.

JohnB said...

And cuts of the cane has a very literal meaning in Singapore where every stroke of the cane is so heavy that it opens the skin up and leaves cuts across the buttocks. 24 strokes will leave the buttocks in something of a mess. The caners are martial arts experts, and that enables them to deliver at least three times heavier strokes than the magistrates in England would have been able to deliver with the birch/cat when it was in use prior to law reform in 1948, and copnsequently causes much more damage to the backside.

sandye said...

Singapore should be kicked out of the United Nations for human rights abuses and brutally beating (caning)thier male prison population. They are a handful of places in this world that have legalized this barbarity. Any country can threaten death and beatings to control its population. The oppresive PAP government censors and intimidates its critics to silence them and crush opposition. The freedom of its citizens are restricted for further control. This flogging frenzy is cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and is contrary to all international law regarding torture; but Singapore arrogantly continues this madness year after year. There is no moral or ethical justification for this deliberate physical assault upon another human being and is surely a crime against humanity right out of the dark ages.

Anonymous said...

Being a male myself, I have no doubt that this type of punishment is a very effective deterrent -- and a much needed one to prevent sex crime and to promote respect for women. In fact, since I started imagining that I live in Singapore with its strict laws against sexual misconduct on the part of men towards women, I have found that my level of respect for women has increased dramatically. At first, I was offended that only men are caned, but I have since grown to admire how exempting women promotes respect for women, acknowledges the physical and behavioral differences between men and women, and does not weaken the taboo against beating women.

Flogging can be an effective deterrent to the higher testosterone levels in men that often result in crimes in involving sex and violence. In that way, flogging can civilize the male gender group in the same way that the lion tamer's whip keeps potentially dangerous circus lions under control Men use their strong bodies to commit crimes, but those strong bodies are also well suited to enduring the rigors of the lash. Throughout history, the male gender group has been kept under control from cradle to grave under the threat and application of corporal punishment in the home, school, military, and society. This still the case in Singapore where males live under the influence of corporal punishment seamlessly from childhood to the age of 49. It was only during the middle part of the last century that this unravelled in the so-called advanced nations. I often find it odd how even people who believe in spanking think that it should stop just before or as boys enter their teen years when the testosterone kicks in in things such as date rape start happening. It is also odd that in this era of bikinis, miniskirts, easy access to pornography, and co-ed everything that we taken away from women the protection provided by the lash.