To forgive is divine

In ancient times, there was this belief that inflicting pain on a person would instill  fear   into him so that he would not repeat whatever mistakes that he did. This belief led to the so-called ‘corporal punishment’, which included ‘spanking ‘, whipping, flogging,caning etc.

 Often these punishments were carried out in public to shame and disgrace the culprits as well as serve as a deterrent to others not to commit the same offence.

Since the 18th century, the concept of inflicting pain on wrongsoers were seen to be ineffective and inefficient since even though pain and physical scars might be inflicted, behavioral change had not be forthcoming from those who were punished.

As society became more open and better educated, reformation of wrongdoers took precedence over retribution, and in the western world, corporal punishments were gradually reduced and abolished.

The milder corporal punishment like spanking by parents on a child is still being practised now and is allowed in both USA and  Canada on children below 12 years old. However, corporal punishment of students in schools have been largely been banned in most parts of Europe, Canada, Japan.

Nowadays, corporal pubishments like whipping and flogging as part of judicial judgement  are considered babaric, and in most civilised societies that pride themselves on human rights and compassion , these types of corporal punishments are no longer pracitsed.

 In certain Asian and African countries, these sort of punishments are still being carried out.

I think it is time that whipping and flogging  be discontinued. In the modern and civilised world , there is really no place to mete out this sort of punishment to wrongdoers. What can inflicting pain hope to achieve  apart from extracting certain ‘pleasure’ to see a wrong doer suffer in pain? A sort of revenge you may say. But it would not help to reform the wrong doer.

Humanity is about forgiveness and compassion. To err is human , to forgive divine. While we worship divinity, we should learn to be more magnanimous and forgiving. ANd if we are more forgiving, why should be want to whip a fellow human being; why should we want to cause severe pain and a permanent scar on the body of that human being? Where is our empathy?

Whipping has really no place in a civilised society.

 P.S.  I hope in our discussion on corporal punishment, we can refrain from any personal attacks and attacks on any religion. All religions are great and good; it is the mistake of some wayward and zealous followers that lead to wrong perception ..  


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Justin Choo
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 00:06:32

    Sometimes one wonders why we are so stupid. Don’t we have a brain that is supposed to be for thinking and reasoning?

    Can we do this?
    Can we do that?
    Can we wear this?
    Can we drink that?

    Just consider these 3 cardinal rules:
    1. Does this action harm us?
    2. Does this action harm others?
    3. Does this action bring any benefit to our welfare?

    Very simple. KISS!

    Keep It Straight & Short!
    Keep It Short & Simple!
    Keep It Simple Sweetie!
    Keep It Simple Stupid!


  2. romerz
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 00:55:44

    Dr Hsu,

    Come join us ordinary Malaysians without allegiance to party politics. That way we can move and I really mean move the country forward.

    Forget your party allegiance and your hope to bring Gerakan around. Let me be blunt. Even if you can, UMNO has already forsaken Gerakan by going it on it’s own.

    You are intelligent enough to see it too without me expanding on UMNO’s go it alone racial rhetoric which will only hurt all the component partners. They don’t even trust their component partners!!!

    Accept that UMNO is seriously struggling to survive and they will do anything to keep their relevance, MCA, Gerakan or MIC and all the peanut parties notwithstanding! But mere appendages good to have around but useless when the going gets tough!

    Sorry Doc for being rude, but please ask KTK what does it feel to be an UMNO appendage?

    Dr Hsu,

    I hold you in the highest of regard with regards your conscience and intellect but I do believe your time frame with Gerakan is close to being up.

    Come join me and Justin in the wilderness. Better that way so we can at least prepare for the transition when it happens.

    It won’t be easy and definitely not peaceful but it will happen soon. I’m sure you know as well as I do the demographics of the country.

    Median age 24.6, 75% Malaysians under 30 years old, 66% Malaysians urban.

    UMNO/BN WILL fall at the next GE. Help us with your reasonable voice to prevent mayhem which we all abhor!

    Help us transit PEACEFULLY to a mature society which is inevitable!


  3. A true Malaysian
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 09:10:01

    I am against corporal punishment and not in favour of “moral policing” as well.

    It is our duty as parents to instill good moral values on our own children while they are young, but once they become adults, they are the ones responsible, not us as parents.

    Dr. Hsu, your views never failed to impress me, How I wish those words are from someone’s horse mouth, not from yours.

    Stupidity is all over in Malaysia, no more common sense, it seems.


  4. Dr Hsu
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 09:49:10

    In fact, for non violent violation of the law, the apt sentence should be community service. Let the person do social work or clean the public garden. Let them clean a public toilet. Let them help man a library. Let them help students cross the road.Let them help in an old folks home.

    Community services give them a sense of accomplishment, and a feel of what other people do for their livelihood. From that, coupled with counselling, a person may see things more clearly and hence behavioural change may have a chance to be changed.

    For example, let a millionaire who has done something wrong to clean the puduraya toilet. He may then see how the poor live and work. He might then want to donate more of his wealth and time to help the poorer class of people.

    Or let the wayward minister/mp clean the public garden so that they can have a feel of what manual work is like.

    That way, of course, not all will change, but at least the chances of making a person change is higher than giving out corporal punishment.

    Similarly, capital punishmet should not be mandatory in certain crime. I am against capital punishmet in fact, but for a start we should do away with mandatory death sentences.

    I think Malaysians need to start evolving in their thinking. Lay down their ego for a while and they will look at things differently.


  5. folo4
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 10:30:30

    I was at a receiving end of corporal punishment for not doing Bahasa Malaysia homework in Standard Four. 16 slaps to the hand with a steel ruler.

    I ended up shunning the national language forever.

    Ah well. At least I know who to blame when someone remarks my oddly competent English and horrible Malay.

    Not to say I oppose corporal punishment; if I was beaten up further in my childhood, I think somehow, I would be a better person.


  6. petestop
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 11:05:18

    Doc Hsu,

    Agreed with you on the community service, it benefits the community more

    Furthermore Malaysian public toilets need a lot of cleaning.

    As these are man made laws (no where is such punishment stated in the holy books), thus, man should use rational thought to amend it according to the times.

    We should learn from history, not repeat history,
    which have but brought down civilizations due to its inability to change with the times.


  7. klm
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 11:06:13

    Dr. Hsu.

    The recent case of the judge sentencing a woman to caning for drinking beer has got the world to focus on Malaysia. I am not going to comment on whether this is right or wrong. What I am saying is that the position taking by the woman has thrown the whole system into convulsion.

    Malaysia as a country has split personalities. On one hand it want to be a developed nation with modern thinking. On the other hand, it want to keep the characteristics of the 7th century. Or at least there are some people who want to remain in the 7th century.

    Sanity is maintained if the pathway is balanced. Because, this is an unstable situation, one tiny hiccup will cause a convulsion. So we have Najib one hand and some of the ulamas on the other in an unstable stable situation.

    As Malaysia is a relatively open country, its economy relies on trade and investment from the rest of the world. The well being of the nation depends to some extent on Malaysia’s reputation as reasonable (not extreme) and rule abiding nation. So this dichotomy is not good. No one knows when Malaysia become “tow fong” (Cantonese for wind in the head.) This is risky for business. So doing business in Malaysia requires premium. Malaysia will have to pay more for foreign goods and services.

    The matter may appears small. The ramification is big.


  8. Dr Hsu
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 11:54:57

    If flogging this woman is done, who would want to come to invest in malaysia? Words will spread and we will be regarded as a nation, no longer living on top of trees, with people going round whipping other people.

    I agree with klm that the ramification is going to be great.


  9. Meng
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 12:05:59

    To forgive is divine.. I am troubled by it… finding one who has abit of divinity in him in the seat of power is an enormous task. False display of divinity are aplenty in this country and surfacing through statements in the likes of…I will not allow the sentence to be carried out ..the stuff of the man is doubtful..for the words “To forgive is divine” has never existed in this damn country.

    To swindle is divine… To play the racial cards is divine..

    Our social amenities are badly maintained…poor supervision….nothing can be learned….to learn how not to clearn the toilets is the right phrase…Cleaning toilets are not defined in the books of divinity…

    The act to request the caning to be held in public is more divine for it will tell the world what rubbish we have here in 1malaysia…


  10. A true Malaysian
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 12:36:18

    Let people have the peace of minds in practising what they profess. To have good perception or impression on the religion one prides of, we should do earnestly to convince what we believe is right and not overzealously imposing on others.

    This is not about rules and regulations that affect Muslims only, they affect all of us directly or indirectly no matter how. Compassion is what we wish to see, if you still insist on policing. Community services are good suggestions for the offenders.


  11. ahoo
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 14:54:06

    We are always number 1 in the world for the wrong reason with the exception of ” Miss Nicol ” of course. Sheer arrogance is the hallmark of certain people and wonder will they ever see light at the end of their tunnel. Judgement on any case must be dispensed with mercy and a chance for correction. Can’t there be community service instead of caning or what not as suggested by ATM above ?

    I am no expert in no position to comment on Syariah law and its punishment but surely the modern day believers know that there are far more severe crimes committed by politicians out there. Many of them maybe drinking at those 5 / 6 stars hotel somewhere in town. Why punish this women when others were around her ? Can’t be that she was drinking all alone there, can someone please confirm the actual status then ?

    Let there always be mercy and love in whatever punishment meted out as corrective measures are the best solution to any crime.


  12. klm
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 16:14:37

    Dr. Hsu. If the implication is no big, why would Najib step in. Why would there be so much behind the scene actions?


  13. klm
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 16:15:50

    I would add the government may be crazy but it is not stupid. 🙂


  14. Clarence
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 17:16:05

    I respect and admire the fortitude shown by Kartika, the woman who was to be caned.

    From the outset, she had declared publicly her commission of the sin of consuming alcohol which is against her religion. All along, she did not appeal her sentence and had steadfastly shown great remorse. She willingly accepted punishment to atone for her sinful act and even asked to be whipped in public so as to become an example to others.

    The Almighty would have been very pleased with her act of contrition. He would forgive and lovingly embrace her instead of laying a finger on her.

    Through her actions, intentional or otherwise, Kartika has claimed the moral high ground whilst subjecting her religious enforcers to much derision and ridicule for their lack of mercy and compassion.

    I just googled “Kartika + caning” before I wrote this comment and the search returned 124,000 hits. Traveling at warp speed, Kartika has unwittingly rocketed herself into cyber stratosphere and made headlines around the world. Her story has become fodder for social discourse at homes, workplaces, places of worship,
    restaurants, and pubs. I am sure Kartika wanted no part of this notoriety.

    Now, if this episode was a trifle laughing matter, I bet Kartika would have had the last laugh. Sadly, it is not.

    The Talibanistic reaction of our religious officials has tarnished and sullied the good name of Malaysia. The furor from across the globe have certainly discomforted our self-righteous “high and mighty” ministers and clerics who no doubt are now scrambling to do spin control. Sadly, the bell has been rung and nothing can be done to un-ring it. Even with the invented lame excuses and justifications, it will be hard to quell these negative reverberations.

    This sorry tale reminds me of the religious parable that gave rise to the saying “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. Somehow, I wonder if the people who sanctioned Kartika’s punishment and the person who wields the cane are even aware of this parable. When the first lashing is cast on Kartika’s body, what will they be thinking?

    Yes, to forgive is divine. But for some humans, despite their intimacy with the Divine, they will continue to err and err.


  15. Clarence
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 17:54:54

    A minor correction to my concluding paragraph:

    Yes, to forgive is divine. But for some humans, despite their intimacy with the Divine, they are unforgiving and will continue to err and err.


  16. A true Malaysian
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 18:04:30


    Excellence write-up. It takes a compassionate and full of wisdom to come up with such writing.

    I believe this is how to earn a good name on what you belief. Religions, by themselves, are essentially brand names like adidas, nike, mercedez benz, proton or perodua. Religion should not exist in the first place. This is what I believe all along.



  17. vic71bc
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 19:16:31

    excuse my ignorance, is consuming ‘tapai’–yeast fermented sticky rice-alcohol– halal ??? It is sold openly in markets.


  18. Yam Siap Pee Pee
    Aug 27, 2009 @ 19:51:22

    But they are not punishing her but humiliating her for over 6 days. If they want to cane her why over 6 days and not in one go.


  19. DG
    Sep 02, 2009 @ 12:09:26

    Kartika is seen as a “heroine” when admitting guilt and wanting to be punished especially publicly. The parties asking to proceed with the punishment are the ones getting the “headache” and have much to learn.
    Now who is the one being taught a lesson ?


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