Western vs Chinese law

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 July, 2003, 12:00am

I refer to the letter headlined 'Laws should focus on punishment' (July 24), in which Jeffry Kuperus pleads emphatically for China not to emulate the way of the West in handling criminal activities.

First, he chastises me for saying that wearing a mobile phone around one's neck is akin to inviting someone to rob you. This is a sad reality in China where the gap between haves and have-nots widens daily. It is also not totally uncommon for women to have earrings ripped from their ears in 'crimes of opportunity' in my fair city. I have witnessed it.

Mr Kuperus then claims I would have women wear burkas to prevent rapes. I find that to be skewed and amateur logic in a weak argument. Can he vouch that there are no cases of rape in countries like Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia where the all-enveloping burkas are common, if not mandatory, and where women essentially have no rights anyway?

I am a big believer that western or particularly American-style laws are often flawed and imperfect. However, do we see as examples that should continue - the Chinese jailing of people for years without charges or, as in a case here in Guangzhou, locking up and beating people to death because they fail to produce their residency card?

Where has he been during the Article 23 storm? One can read the newspaper every day and see glaring examples of the 'superiority' of the Chinese legal system in dealing with academics, dissidents, internet surfers, people who fall from party favour and common criminals.

Mr Kuperus lives in a place where the western model of law is followed. He thrives in a system where there is due process and one is innocent until proven guilty, yet he sits on his high horse and says to all 'dear western friends' that the western way protects criminals.

At least in the West, laws can be scrapped or revised after judicial review, public consultation or citizen activism, concepts that are still alien to the Chinese way.