The way most law enforcement people in favour of this put it, is that for minor offenses, one would be given the choice between paying a fine, or caning (with a stroke being 'worth' the half as much as is given for 'laying out' a day in jail.). Shoplifting, for example, would be three to five strokes.
More serious offenses would involve a choice between jail time and lashes. The ratio of lashes to jail time would be 1:10, so that, for example, 120 days in jail would equal 12 lashes.
The punishment would take place in a private area, witnessed by the victim, a medic, and several officials. Caning would be strokes against the bare buttocks and thighs (with protective padding ensuring that the kidneys would not be hit). Flogging would used on the bare back of the offender, at a right angle so no cutting would happen.
Having not taken a stance on this myself, there are good points on either side.
- Many people do not fear the current punishments, they won't pay a fine and they aren't scared of jailtime at all. For some, living in jail is actually an increase in luxury. A way to deal with this is to make it so that if a person has been convicted of the same (minor) crime 3 times, there's no choice - off to the cane with him. I don't think many people would want to get punished physically each week for some simple shoplifting.
- The knee-jerk reaction from most people would be to view corporal punishment as barbaric, something civilized nations need not resort to. Additionally, many people would undoubtedly have major problems seeing women subjected to this, even though discrimination would be an even worse alternative in my opinion.
- Having the choice of getting lashed for minor offenses would mean that ordinary people would have a mean to carry on with their life quickly, and poor people wouldn't have to pay huge fines that would further hasten their descent into crime.
- A common misconception about jails is that serious offenders "get what they deserve", because we tend to think they'll get raped and physically abused in prison by their inmates. As such, we already have a system of corporal punishment built-in, no? However, this system is skewed - it is not the big, hulking biker who shot his brother that gets raped. It is not the millionaire corporate boss that gets raped. It is the 18 year old dude who got busted for selling pot who gets raped. Again and again.
- Of course, masochists would require a work-around to deal with those special people. And back when physical punishment was part of school life, the roughnecks who got into all loads of sh*t did not give a hoot about getting hit. Then again, the kind of punishment we're talking about here is significantly more serious.
Lastly, an extensive site about caning in Singapore - Beware, picture of caned buttocks included (not pornographic though) - http://www.corpun.com/awfay9405.htm