Whipping demos in schools draw flak

Agence France Presse

Kuala Lumpur, May 27:

Malaysia has launched whipping demonstrations in schools to scare children off criminal careers, prompting condemnation by the nation’s Human Rights Commission today.

“Flogging Officer Number 1” Iskandar Zulkarnain Mohamad Radzi, 25, from Taiping Prison in northern Perak state, staged the first session on a dummy strapped to a frame before about 300 students at a local school this week.

The pupils, who were also shown photographs of the injuries inflicted by caning, told the New Straits Times they were shocked by the severity of the punishment, imposed for a wide range of crimes in Malaysia, including under-age sex. Radzi has been whipping convicts for seven years after being taught how to swing the 1.09-metre cane at a minimum speed of 160 km per hour and produce a force upon impact of at least 90 kilos, he told the paper.

Before he canes a prisoner, he dons a surgical mask to protect his identity and also to prevent bits of skin and flesh hitting his face, the daily said.

Even the most hardened gangsters cried out in pain after the third stroke and those made of lesser stuff soiled their pants after the first lash, Radzi said.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar said the demos would be accompanied by briefings on the law as many teenagers were not aware that having sex with an underaged girl, even with her consent, could lead to a rape conviction.

The whipping demonstrations would be staged at schools nationwide in an effort to reduce rising juvenile delinquency, officials said. But the government-backed Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) today issued a statement expressing concern over the programme, saying it contravened international conventions on the rights of children and against torture.