US teenagers have dreadful reputation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 1994, 12:00am

I THINK the Hong Kong student Shiu Chi-ho and American Michael Fay, deserved the caning they received for acts of vandalism in Singapore. In fact, I think the Singaporean court was quite lenient.

American teenagers have a notorious reputation for being willful and uninhibited in their behaviour. Yet, they seem to believe that if they disobey the laws of another country, because they are from the US, they should be treated in a mild way by the local legal system.

They should be made to understand that behaviour of this kind in a foreign country is unacceptable.

If Singapore, by the action it has taken, gets this message home, all well and good. If anything, it showed some weakness, by reducing the number of strokes of the cane Michael Fay would receive and by reducing his custodial sentence, under tremendous pressure from the US.

In effect, the US pressure was an infringement of the sovereignty of the Singapore administration.

On entering another country, foreigners should inquire about its customs and laws and obey them while guests in that country.

Laws and the punishments meted out to those who break these laws are designed as a form of measurement. These laws bestow certain freedom on people. When they exceed the limits of that freedom, they are punished accordingly. If anything, the courts in Singapore were too lenient with regard to these cases.