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SINGAPOREAN SAYS CANING SHOWS STREETS ARE SAFE

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The widely publicized caning of U.S. citizen Michael Fay will at least show the world that Singapore's streets are safe from crime, the island state's senior leader said in a report Friday.

"I think with right-minded people, or people I consider right-minded, (the caning) is a plus," Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew said. "You know that if you come to Singapore your life, body, limb and property will be quite safe."Fay's caning sentence captured international headlines and harsh criticism from Washington but little sympathy from Lee.

The 18-year-old Fay was originally sentenced to six strokes of the cane but in the end received four in an attempt to appease angry U.S. lawmakers.

In an interview with the local Straits Times newspaper, Lee described Singapore's strict legal code as necessary to inhibit the public's natural bent toward crime.

"Human beings, regrettable though it may be, are inherently vicious and have to be restrained from their viciousness," he said.

In an editorial, the state-controlled Straits Times lashed out at Washington for misusing its international influence.

"If the U.S. is the only superpower left, it needs to behave like one," the editorial said. "I would not want to look silly over a matter as routine as Fay's punishment."