Monday, 16 May 2011

An Answer for Anwar

After a long drawn-out trial which grabbed the headlines of every news publication which knew heads or tails, Justice Zabidin of the SodomyII trial rules that prima-facie was established, and that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is to enter defence when the trial resumes on June 6th.

Can I see a show of hands as to the number of you who actually believed he'd go free?

In this country, where the term 'dirty politics' is redundant, it was very clear (to me, at least) that this was merely a ploy to get the morality of the Opposition under question. It is a little-recognised fact that a large chunk of the Malaysian population live outside of town, and are not subject to the same thought-processes we new-age city slickers are.

We see that this is a BN trick... they see TV3.

I know it probably sounds quite uppity of me to reduce it to 'us' and 'them,' but I know my readers well enough to know that you get it. The fact of the matter is, the rural votes are the ones that get the majority into office, because the majority of the people live in rural areas. So while we base our opinions upon news & reports from unbiased sources, the majority is left with mainstream media.

And BN won by how much?

It's a bit like how constipated Saiful swore upon the Holy Qur'an within two months of his police report. It was a stunt by any other name, to win over the hearts of Felda settlers nationwide. Just like how a certain Felda reality-show contestant won Malaysia's biggest talent-competition, simply because the makciks in those weird kampungs we've never heard of would like him.

The truth of the matter is, we are relegating tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of the Rakyat's money to run this case. A case which would never see the light of day in most other countries. It is not wrong to be gay, it is not (legally) wrong to cheat on your wife (with a man, a woman, or otherwise). What (or rather, who) DSAI chooses to do during his personal time is his personal problem. As long as it doesn't affect whatever work he does in office, it's all good.

... hey, wait a minute. He isn't in office, either.

So why is this an issue of national importance, receiving the full attention of the national media?

The difference between politics then & now, is that during the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman and the time following his immediate predecessors, ministers & members of the Government didn't try to saint themselves only that far below Mother Teresa, and then vehemently deny allegations that they are actually human. Politicians then were womanisers, drinkers... hell, the late Father of Independence had the best collection of dirty jokes, so I am told. But at the end of the day, he did good by his Country & by his People, and that is what people remember.

Problem now is that when you don't do jack AND expect the benefits... hey man, you're a sitting duck.

For now, let's celebrate. Because between June 6th and June 30th, we can watch even more tax-money go to waste. FUN FUN FUN.

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Thursday, 12 May 2011

the Mandatory Death Penalty.

When you think of drug trafficking, you immediately associate with it certain figures. Your mind stereotypes these figures; you will see someone downtrodden, with bags under his puffy red eyes, disshelved hair... the general look of the scum of society. This stereotype is so powerful that if you see someone on the street who fits this description, you will immediately assume them a drug addict, or at least a homeless person.

But as we all know, stereotypes are very dangerous things; something that actually works against our sense of judgement. So now I ask you: What if it is not so?

I spent my Wednesday evening at a Death Penalty Forum, held at the KL Chinese Assembly Hall at the top of Jalan Maharajalela in the city centre. The reason behind my being there is irrelevant; what is relevant is what was brought out of that room. The forum was spearheaded by the people behind the 'Save Yong Vui Kong' campaign, with support from the Malaysian Bar Council and the KLCAH.

The panellists were Andrew Khoo, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Malaysian Bar Council, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a prominent human rights lawyer, YB Gobind Singh Deo, lawyer & Puchong MP, and Madrasamy Ravi (or M. Ravi), Yong Vui Kong's defence council. Also present was the family of Chun Yin; another Malaysian incarcerated in Singapore and awaiting execution.

(Read: "Have a heart," Gwo Burne tells Singapore: )

M. Ravi, human rights lawyer and defence council to Yong Vui Kong, brought up several interesting facts. Among them:

1) The Mandatory-Death Sentence was challenged in Singapore, and has been declared as "cruel & unusual punishment" by all Commonwealth countries (except Malaysia & Singapore).
2) A judges' discretion is taken away by the Mandatory Death sentence, as it allows no second path for offenders.
3) The Indian judicial system as amended the Mandatory Death sentence, saying that "No civilised country can uphold this law." (Coincidentally, the Malaysian judicial system is based upon the Indian judicial system.)
4) Yong Vui Kong's appeal to Singaporean President, SR Nathan, would be the first of its kind in Singapore in eleven years.
5) The mandatory death sentence does not serve its purpose as a deterrence toward potential offenders, as statistics compiled by several NGO's have proven that drug-related crimes have doubled since the mandatory death sentence was imposed.
6) No other countries in the world uphold the mandatory death sentence except Singapore & Malaysia.
7) The Malaysian Minister of Law personally acknowledges that the Mandatory Death Sentence is ineffective.

M. Ravi closed his argument by saying Yong Vui Kong's case "must be brought to the International Court of Law by the Malaysian Government."

Andrew Khoo, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Malaysian Bar Council followed after M. Ravi, giving us a brief history on the mandatory death sentence. In 1975, the death sentence was not mandatory for drug trafficking. In 1983, the Act was amended, making death mandatory for those caught in the act of trafficking drugs.

Between 1988 – 1995: SUARAM says there were 194,797 drug addicts recognised by NGOs in Malaysia.
Between 1988 – 2005: PEMADAM noted that there were 289,793 drug addicts on record.
In ten years, there was a 95,000+ increase in the number of drug addicts. It stands to reason that we're either "not hanging enough people" as Andrew put it, OR more likely is that the mandatory death sentence is an ineffective deterrent.

Here, I would like to break off into my own words.
Both M. Ravi & Andrew Khoo make very compelling arguments (of course they do. They're lawyers). That having been said, it is very clear that the mandatory death sentence isn't doing its foremost job: To deter would-be offenders from involving themselves in the drug trade.

People in general have a thing about removing or disposing of items irrelevant or useless to them. We call it 'streamlining'; when we dispose of needless clutter. Clutter that is ineffective & irrelevant to our lives.

So since the mandatory death penalty isn't working... why do we still have it?

One of the most compelling statements I took away from the Forum last night was from Andrew, who said, "The mandatory death sentence removes the discretion of the judge in its' entirety. The Malaysian judicial system calls upon experienced judges who make their decisions based on their experience, yet at a juncture where their experience is vital, their right of discretion is revoked."

On the 10th of May 2011, BERNAMA released a report saying that the police rescued two women during a raid on an apartment in Puchong, who were being held there against their will & were forced to become drug mules. These women were duped into going to the apartment, and when they refused to haul the drugs willingly, they were forced to swallow the product, then held captive for several days.

Here's MY question to you: If these women were to have been caught for trafficking these drugs across the Causeway, would you deem it just to have the mandatory death sentence imposed upon them?
Should sentences be handed out upon the severity of the crime, with extraordinary circumstances being taken into account?

I, as a law-abiding citizen (where applicable), would like to state in my personal opinion that the death sentence should be retained, and handed out in only the most extreme of circumstances. I also believe that the MANDATORY death sentence should be abolished (in favour of life imprisonment) or amended, leaving it to the discretion of the judge to impose such a sentence. Don't you think so?

(I am fully aware as to how controversial this subject is. In light of that, I invite you to comment on this post, sharing your views on the subject. However, please bear in mind that as a citizen of the world, you do hold the power of justice in your hands. So think twice before you relegate someone to the gallows with your words.)

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