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European Politics Taiwanese politics

EU again meddling in Taiwan’s internal affairs

The death sentence has become a political taboo in Europe, but things look different in Taiwan.

The death penalty in Taiwan, which since 1994 has developed into a fully democratic country and is one of Asia’s most tolerant societies, as the legalization of homosexual marriage in May 2019 proves, can be imposed for murder, drug trafficking, terrorism, robbery, rape, kidnapping, piracy treason and desertion. There are currently 41 people on death row.

Approval rates for capital punishment are well above 80% and Japan is another example in Asia which proves that it’s not incompatible with democracy. Until the late 1990s, Taiwan conducted more executions per capita than the USA, but in the 21st century the numbers rapidly declined.

Since early 2016, before Weng only two persons had been executed on the island. The first was Cheng Chieh, 23, who killed four people and injured another 22 people in a mass stabbing on a MRT train in Taipei. He was too gutless to commit suicide and longing to die at the hands of the State. It was the first such incident on the metro system since it started operations in 1996 and shocked Taiwan, where violent street crime and mass attacks are rare. Then Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming said Cheng’s death was “the only way to show publicly that justice had been served and to relieve the sorrow and pain of victims’ families”.

By the way: In those days took the subway every day multiple times, so it could have been me if I had been at the wrong place at the wrong time.

In August 2018 Lee Hung-chi, 39, was executed for stabbing his ex-wife to death as well as abducting, drugging and poisoning one of their daughters, who died in hospital after two months. Lee had shown no remorse and indicated that he still felt the need to gain revenge against his ex-wife’s family.

The last one so far was Weng Jen-hsien, 53, executed on Wednesday, April 1st, for killing his parents and their caregiver, his niece, his nephew and his nephew’s wife and injuring another five family members in 2016, when he doused them with gasoline before setting them on fire during Chinese New Year celebrations. As the youngest brother, he had developed a lethal grudge after being left to do most of the work on the family farm.

In the aftermath, the European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan, speaking for the European Union, recalled its well-known opposition to the use of capital punishment under any circumstances. After almost 40,000 people in the four biggest member States alone have died of the coronavirus due to a late and inefficient response to the pandemic that originated in China at least three months ago, and the EU basically disappeared from the political stage without sending even one message of hope and encouragement to the Europeans it is supposed to represent, this can be considered another masterpiece of diversionary tactic. Just like the sudden announcement last week by the European Commission that the accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia can now finally begin made me wonder what Brussels’ current priorities are.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice has obviously been very cautious about conducting executions lately, while understanding that Taiwanese society is far from reaching a consensus to abolish capital punishment. Without external interference, that might never happen. Who are Europeans to give unwanted advice anyway?

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