Just over a week ago a Malaysian husband and wife were jailed by a Swedish court for smacking and caning their children. The case, which began with their arrest in December, has led some Malaysians to wonder whether they rely too much on corporal punishment.
"This is what one of the children called a rotan," said prosecutor Anna Arnell, producing a cane in the Stockholm courtroom. "In Malaysia it is a whip used to discipline children in school and at home."
Her words prompted "looks of confusion and shock" in court, according to Malaysian newspaper The Star.
The youngest son of the couple in the dock, seven-year-old Arif, had earlier been seen in a video recording saying that his father had pinched him on the arms, while his mother had hit him with a coat hanger and a "stick with a knot at the end".
This was the rotan, or rattan.
Malaysians would not find these statements shocking.Well, in that case, we should cut 'em some slack, right?:
In fact, Malaysian tourism and culture minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz used almost the same words as the prosecutor when, in January, he urged the Swedish authorities to show leniency.
"In Malaysia it's common to scold or cane our children a little now and then," he said.
Each country has its own culture and its own ways of bringing up children, he added.Quite so, but I don't think a little scolding or caning is the problem:
These contrasting attitudes also came into sharp focus when the second of the couple's four children, Ammar, estimated that he was beaten more than 1,000 times per year, for such things as playing loud music instead of doing homework, fighting with his sister, or misbehaving when he was meant to be reading the Koran with his mother.That isn't child-rearing. That's sadistic torture.
Update: Caning in Malaysia--it's all the rage!