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Too many perpetrators going unpunished

 | September 11, 2012

There have been far too many cases of 'aberration' of justice faced by the rakyat.

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Eighteen years ago the grandmother of a 15-year-old schoolgirl turned to an opposition politician for help after the girl was allegedly raped by a chief minister.

The country’s law defined the girl as a minor but did that make any difference to the CM? No! And neither was the law perturbed over his actions when the public prosecutor withdrew the charge citing lack of evidence.

The perpetrator went “unpunished” over such an “aberration” of justice. Instead, through political manouvering, it was the opposition politician who ended up in jail under sedition charges for printing and distributing pamphlets containing details of the allegations.

Like the girl, the well-meaning opposition man too ended up as victim of “aberration” of justice.

That was in 1994; since then history kept repeating itself with justice consistently turning a blind eye to rape survivors, their ages regardless.

The most recent “aberration” of justice happened to a four-year-old girl who was raped by a kindergarten co-owner, Ewe Peng Lip, 49.

Ewe had appealed against the Sessions Court’s verdict which had convicted him of the crime; on Sept 5, High Court judge Zamani Abdul Rahim, who heard the appeal, concluded that the girl’s testimony was far-fetched and implausible and decided to free Ewe.

If allowing a rapist to evade punishment was not damaging enough, Zamani made yet another blunder when he remarked that women have a tendency to exaggerate about a sexual act.

The Children’s Protection Society (CPS) Penang president Nazir Ariff, for one, was at lost for words with Zamani’s “aberration” of justice.

“There have been three such cases [involving alleged rape of minors] in just a month.

“I don’t know what to say. There must be something technically wrong with our law,” Nazir told an English daily.

Nazir was referring to the earlier two cases involving bowler Noor Afizal Azizan, 21, and electrician Chuah Guan Jiu, 22, both who were convicted of statutory rape. The two escaped jail terms and were instead bound over on good behaviour bonds.

A worried Nazir urged the courts to consider working with professional child psychologists before judgments are made to enable child witness testimonies to be thoroughly assessed.

Is the government listening?

Since Noor Afizal and Chuah’s crimes went unpunished, a furore has erupted, with parents worried over the safety of their daughters while women’s groups angry over the nonchalant disposal of justice in cases of rape, both statutory and otherwise.

Even the Bar Council has reflected its concern, with its president Lim Chee Wee declaring the local courts as being inconsistent in sentencing convicted offenders.

“The four aims of sentencing are retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation and incapacitation,” Lim had told FMT.

To make sure that sentences were consistent, Lim suggested that Malaysia set up a sentencing council; a method adopted by developed nations such as England and Australia (New South Wales and Victoria).

Lim said the council would give judges guidelines on how best to decide on an appropriate sentence for a given crime. The guidelines would help to guide a court when a more or less severe sentence would have to be imposed.

“The sentencing guidelines for individual offences set out a range of sentences reflecting different levels of seriousness and within each range, a starting point for the sentence.”

The question is: is the Malaysian judiciary “humble” enough in welcoming the assistance? Or will the nation’s justice system remain presumptuous as ever, refusing to make judgments above board?

AG wakes up from his slumber

Almost two decades after a minor was raped and that too by a high-ranking politician who continued to roam free, the Attorney-General has suddenly realised that an “aberration” of justice has occurred, going by the underage rape case involving Chuah.

Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail in a statement on Sept 6 said an appeal had been filed against the Penang Sessions Court’s decision to let Chuah walk away free on a RM25,000 three-year good behaviour bond.

“This aberration of justice for those who most need the protection of the law must be rectified,” he said.

Is Gani serious about making make sure that justice is no longer denied to those in need? If yes, what took the AG’s Chambers such a long time in awakening from its slumber?

For now, Gani’s promise of “justice” seems too good to be true.

If the AG is trying to appease an angry public by providing fodder, it is useless because the rakyat now wants accountability from the judiciary.

Too many rapists and molesters have gone unpunished because the nation’s incompetent judiciary has for a long time failed to detect an “aberration” of justice.

Hitherto, if a department head finds sexual harassment “exciting” as was the case with Labour Department director-general Ismail Abdul Rahim who in 2009 ridiculed the Sexual Harassment Act saying such a law “could lead to a dull and rigid environment in the workplace”, would that also not be an “aberration” of justice?

The AG knows only too well that the “aberration” of justice has been “alive and kicking” since 1994 when the top politician escaped punishment for statutory rape and again in 2008 when another former minister and currently an ambassador dodged punishment for having molested a bar worker of a five-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur after the victim withdrew her statutory declaration over the incident.

There have been far too many cases of “aberration” of justice faced by the rakyat – enough is enough!

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.


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