China is Determined

29 12 2009

China is Determined

The news this morning (29th December 2009) is that China has executed drug smuggler Akmal Shaikh.

Times Online reported as follows this morning: Mr Shaikh, 53, a former taxi service manager from Kentish Town in London… had been living homeless in Poland when he was approached by two men who duped him into taking the drugs into China …. a man believed to be mentally ill …. apparently bipolar disorder …. Mr Shaikh was arrested in 2007 when he arrived in Urumqi from Tajikistan in possession of four kilogrammes (8.8 pounds) of heroin. He was convicted after a half-hour trial last year and his final appeal was rejected last week by the Supreme Court.

There are the bare bones of the case as reported. There are question marks over China’s judicial system and the ease with which it hands out capital punishment but, sadly, Prime Minister Gordon Brown seems to have been pandering to relativistic media morality. It is reported: Mr Brown at once criticised China for going ahead with the execution. “I condemn the execution of Akmal Shaikh in the strongest terms, and am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted,” he said. He added: “I am particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken.”

China’s reply basically told him to mind his own business and get his thinking right. There are a number of issues that are raised in this case which actually show China in a better light than some Westerners. I suspect that the hue and cry that has appeared in the British media in the last day or so, fuelled by activists and politicians it seems, is more about philosophical and ethical views about the death penalty than about anything else. One might also suggest that the watery and flexible views of our leaders about the drug problem also leaves us little room to criticise nations who take a stronger line than we do.

The pleas or arguments from this side of the world did not have the courage to say to China, “We think capital punishment is old fashioned and a questionable form of bringing justice.” No they didn’t have that sort of courage. My own belief is, seeking to be in line with Biblical teaching, that before God there are certain crimes that are so bad that the only legitimate response is death. However, the reputation of the police is at such a low ebb that truth and justice appear to be often questionable in our society which makes ‘safe convictions’ a rarity. The history of the past twenty years of so proves it.

China obviously has the same problem, for as the Times recently reported, In 2005 Shi Xiaorong, a woman believed to have been murdered in the 1980s in central Hunan Province, reappeared 16 years after her alleged killer had been executed.” Truth and justice in a God-fearing nation may be one thing but in a nation that has largely rejected God and His laws, they are worryingly absent. I’m not too sure that we have grounds to criticise China in this respect. The fact that we have devalued life and pushed away capital punishment doesn’t give us any valid grounds to object to societies where they do hold on to capital punishment. Our own society is not a good example of a law abiding society to show how enlightened thinking works. The fact that we have a runaway drug problem also suggests that we are not the best on the planet to lecture those who seek to stop it in their own societies by harsher means.

A further aspect of this sad case is that of the mental state of the individual concerned. Note the reports: living homeless in Poland …. duped …. believed to be mentally ill …. apparently bipolar disorder. Now suddenly, at the last minute two cousins step forward to plead on his behalf. Where were they before all this happened? How does a man who is apparently suffering (if he did) such a mental disorder be travelling the world on his own? What was his family doing? That is one set of questions which this throws up.

Does a bipolar disorder mean that such a person has no measure of discernment whatsoever? Could such a person be duped into murdering someone else? Or raping someone else? Where does the lack of responsibility stop? And if you say he has no responsibility then what are we doing letting this child-like character wander around the world in such a vulnerable condition?  This does not say much about us as a caring and compassionate society? We tread dangerously around the edge of a great morass here, where “state of mind” removes responsibility. In seeking to be caring and compassionate of the mentally vulnerable, have be in fact robbed them of any respect which should say they are individuals with rights AND responsibilities, and where they fail to live up to those responsibilities they will be held as guilty as anyone else. If we cannot do that, then we must take greater care of them that protects them and us.

As much as I have been a critic of China with its heavy handed opposition to those who dare to seek to exercise freedom of speech, I dare to suggest that they are in a stronger position than we in this present instance and we in the West do not come out of this in a good light. I am certain that the reign of the Communist minority in China is strictly limited but whoever replaces them would be unwise to follow the ethics of the West.

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