Views from the UK

3 February 2005

Dear Sirs,

I was interested to read your website. I am British, I have always lived in Britain and never been to Asia. But I was particularly interested to read about two issues.

The first is an issue I feel very strongly about, namely capital punishment. Any country which has the death penalty will execute some innocent by mistake sooner or later.

And I have no time for anyone who would be willing to volunteer to carry out the executions. The three main arguments in favour of the death penalty appear to be 1) that it’s a deterrent, (but I don’t believe it is), 2) the fact that it costs the government so much money to keep a convicted murderer in prison while the victim’s family gets nothing, (a weak argument, why not hang all criminals and not spend any money on prisons), and 3) it’s an act of revenge on the victim’s family.

I know someone who went to Singapore and said that the streets were clean and it was very safe to walk the streets without fear of being robbed because they cane all criminals. (I don’t think they do in fact cane all criminals.) Even if someone’s been a model prisoner they don’t get let off. But I don’t think this person was aware that the prisoners are not caned like badly behaved school children. They are stripped naked and beaten till they bleed. This is a nauseating practice, and again I have no time for the people that carry out the beatings.

The other issue that was mentioned was national service. My opinion of national service is that it’s a waste of time. Britain had conscription during the two World Wars, and after the Second World War there was national service where every able bodied young man had to serve two years in the armed forces. National service was abolished in Britain in the early sixties, but by then it was a hangover from the War and should have been abolished long before it was (although it probably was necessary just after the War).

In the fifties one of the arguments for abolishing national service in the fifties was that young men were having their further educations and apprenticeships interrupted to do their two years in the forces. National service was abolished before I was born, and I’m glad I didn’t have to do it. I lost two years, when I was aged between 16 and 18, studying for A-Levels which I failed. I spent the next two years, aged between 18 and 20, at college doing a B/TEC course which I passed, and then after college I was unemployed for a year. So between the ages of 16 and 21 I lost three years studying for A-Levels which I failed and being unemployed, and the last thing I needed was having to spend two years in the army.

I’ll look at your website again some time.