Friday, July 5, 2019

Raymond Anthony Fernando’s letter to The Straits Times: The harsher the punishment, the less chance of rehabilitation

My press letter to The Straits Times is published today, Friday 5th July 2019

Forum contributor Osman Sidek has rightly pointed out that it is not wise to shame radicals or terrorists (Shaming may hurt efforts to rehabilitate radicals, July 2).

People who move in this direction are most likely disgruntled and dissatisfied, and mistakenly view the world as being unfair. They need in-depth counselling and have to be closely monitored to prevent them from re-offending.

We cannot be judgmental and humiliate them by publishing their photographs as this would only deepen the hatred in them and make them bitter.

We also have to be sensitive to the feelings of their relatives. Must they be "punished" in the process?

Everyone who has made a wrong turn in life, including prisoners and radicals, needs a second chance in life. Isn't that the objective of the Yellow Ribbon Project?

Radicals or prisoners must be open to entertaining the possibility that they may be wrong and be open to learning from the experience of others. That said, can we not find some kindness in our hearts to work towards rehabilitation instead of wanting to punish wrongdoers all the time?

Let's be mindful that the harsher the conditions, the less chance of rehabilitation.

Raymond Anthony Fernando