In response to the letter from Anthony Burnette in Friday's ''PostBag'', ''Killers deserve no pity'', yes, the victims of murder do have the right to life. However, the opinions expressed by Jose Ramos-Horta against capital punishment in his piece published by the Post last Wednesday cannot be construed as denying this right. Those who propose that capital punishment is not a solution for crime also believe that death cannot undo murder nor serve as a real reparation for the bereaved.
In a talk given recently in Bangkok, Toshi Kazama, Asia programme director of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, described his work with the families of murder victims. He says that in their initial anger and hurt, family members generally favour the execution of the murderer. However, in his long work with the families, he has observed the gradual realisation that the death of the murderer won't lessen their grief. Over time they discover that healing comes with pardon and acceptance. The punishment, but also the rehabilitation, of the perpetrators of violence are essential.
Mr Kazama is not just a spectator of grief, he speaks from experience, as he was the victim of a vicious attack which left him in a coma and which many years later still affects his health.
On another point brought up by Mr Burnette, while it is true that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights owes its origin in part to a reaction to war crimes, it is a grave misunderstanding to limit its application in this way. In the two years of discussion which led to the declaration, the authors explored in detail the implications of the affirmation of the value of life, and refused a suggested amendment which would have limited the right to life by adding an exception for those condemned to death by a court of law.
Chairman, Union for Civil Liberty
WHAT'S IN A WARRANT?
I only have one question: If Thaksin now has an arrest warrant issued for him, does this mean he will be considered extraditable by the countries that have up to now ignored the issue?
SURF BEFORE YOU TOUR
Regarding the letter ''Beware palace scam'' in yesterday's ''PostBag'', if ''Hijacked Ann'' had read her guidebooks or checked the internet she would have been aware of the scams operating at the Grand Palace. It's a shame that her visit was spoiled in such a way, but there are warnings around and it is worth taking heed of them.
'MISS SAIGON' PLAYS WELL IN BKK
On Sept 20, 1989, I was lucky enough to see the world premiere of Cameron Mackintosh's production of Miss Saigon starring Lea Salonga and Jonathan Pryce in London.
Since moving here to live in Bangkok I have missed the theatre, so I was pleased when I read that the Scenario theatre group was staging an original production of this popular musical with an all-Thai cast, and I made it a point to attend a recent performance.
The poignant love story between a bar girl in Vietnam and a GI seems even more realistic when played with this young all-Thai cast. Bars, neon lights, sexy girls and a very sleazy pimp reminded me of a trip to Soi Cowboy. Wonderful acting, dancing and singing plus superb lighting and sound with a spectacular helicopter landing on the stage, all added to what was a very good night in the theatre.
But instead of Drury Lane in London, the Muangthai Rachadalai Theatre is located in the Esplanade shopping centre next to the Thai Cultural Centre MRT station. An audience of about 1,500 mainly Thais filled this modern theatre and there were not many dry eyes at the end. I loved the Thai actor who played the engineer; he would give Jonathan Pryce a run for his money.
I was, however, surprised at the quieter curtain calls than in London, but then this is part of the Thai culture _ quiet praise.
If you love the theatre as I do, then please support this amazing production which runs every Wed-Sun at 7.30pm (except Oct 24), plus at 2pm at weekends, until Oct 28, and from Nov 8-18, every Thur-Sat at 7.30pm, plus a 2pm on Sat and 3pm on Sun. Next May they will present the first Thai production of Phantom of the Opera, which I am sure will also become a hot ticket.
PRACTICE WHAT WAS PREACHED
The Post's recent op-ed piece on religion by Zafar Alam Sarwar entitled ''Tolerance, not violence, is the Muslim way'' states the obvious, that the life and teaching of the Prophet Mohammed was eminently admirable and respectable, and this is not what fuels today's raging debate about the proper place of Islam on the global stage.
It is not the teachings of Islam that are being criticised worldwide, it is what happens after Islamist followers, whether nominal or fanatical, consume it. I believe Muslims worldwide would face far less ridicule if they actually practised their religion as the Prophet Mohammed originally taught and intended. Of course, this is sound advice for all religionists.
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