A national lawmaker has stirred up controversy by suggesting that the mainland should reintroduce caning to reduce crime, even though the practice was abandoned in China more than 100 years ago. Chen Weicai , personnel director of the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau's political department and also a National People's Congress (NPC) deputy, told the annual session of Guangdong's people's congress on Tuesday that the province should adopt Singapore's practice of caning criminals to deter crime, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported yesterday. "Although China has a severe criminal law, with the death penalty for serious crimes, it's not enough to pose a strong and long-term deterrent to potential criminals," Chen said. "By contrast, caning could pose a long-term deterrent." He said he would propose the adoption of caning on the mainland, at the NPC's annual meeting in Beijing in March. Human rights lawyer Mo Shaoping said he was shocked by Chen's suggestion, which would seriously violate human rights. He said caning had been abandoned during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). "Caning is a kind of brutal punishment that would leave a permanent scar," Mo said. "I couldn't believe such a call came from a police officer, who should have a basic awareness of the law and human rights." Rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan also criticised the proposal. "There was brutal punishment such as castration in ancient China too. Should the country impose castration on corrupt cadres who have mistresses?" he wrote on his microblog. An online poll by Sina Weibo found that more than 60 per cent of 1,000 respondents supported the reintroduction of caning. The last flogging in Hong Kong, of a 16-year-old illegal immigrant, took place on August 3, 1990. The controversial Corporal Punishment Ordinance was repealed soon afterwards.