Gaining from pain

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 April, 1998, 12:00am

I refer to Lucy Yim's letter headlined, 'Caning just will not work' (South China Morning Post, March 21), where she argues that the use of corporal punishment in schools is 'counter-productive'.

Whilst schooling abroad, I remember at the age of 10 insulting a decorator working on school walls. This was witnessed by a teacher and I received six straps on the right hand. The stinging pain was enough to remind me even to this day never to deliberately insult people no matter who they are.

Between the ages of 13 and 16, I received 'three of the best' canings about four times across my bottom, administered expertly by masters, for not wearing my school cap whilst in uniform outside school grounds, for not pulling up my socks and for 'severe unpunctuality'.

Now as an adult, whether in my private or business life, I am always punctual and always pull up my socks. Being beaten by masters was a bit like playing rugby; I got used to it.

I took the pain and I gained. Some of my schoolmates were regularly beaten and they've turned out to be outstanding successes abroad. But I take the point that in some rare cases, where the constitution is weak, perhaps the offending pupil could be punished by writing lines, say, 2,000 times, not a trivial 100 lines.

The school which I attended turned out national scholars, one of the best rugby school teams in the country and soldiers, many of whom, without hesitation, gave their lives in two world wars.

A few were awarded the Victoria Cross and one master helped sink the Graf Spee at the Battle of River Plate in World War II. So I suppose caning by such honourable men helped to build my character by rigid discipline. It worked for me.

If your country was attacked what would you do, stand and fight or flee? I know what my schoolmates would do, for they were truly men.

H. N. TONG Mid-Levels