On April 21, FMT ran a story of brothers Joel and Joni from the rural area of Pensiangan who had gone to Keningau in the interior of Sabah to collect their Bantuan Prihatin Nasional cash.
Joel has three children and works as a gardener. Joni has one child and is unemployed. To save money on transport cost, which would have set them back by RM100, they both made that long journey in Joel’s car from their village in Sook.
As luck would have it, they were caught for being in breach of the movement control order (MCO) and had to pay a fine of RM1,000 each. So half of what they got from the government went back to the government because they were compelled to pay the fine.
On the other hand, two deputy ministers and one state executive councillor from Perak (all probably earning in excess of RM10,000 per month), who most likely also violated the MCO, appear to have got away scot free and no mention has been made about these three non-law-abiding citizens being made to pay a fine of RM1,000 each.
I do not know just how many right-thinking citizens out there agree with my view that this is a total miscarriage of justice. It cannot be that you choose to punish the poor and downtrodden but allow the rich and powerful to get away with not so much as a slap on the wrist of the offenders. Where does justice begin and where does it end?
What is a RM1,000 fine to a person who earns in excess of RM10,000 a month when you compare this to the same fine of RM1,000 to a gardener who has three children to support? Or to a person who is unemployed? Where is the logic?
Consider this: All of them are bona fide Malaysians. All of them have grown up in our system and all of them breathe the same quality of air. What probably sets them apart is nothing more than the status in life they have attained. And yet, it is this same system that decides who gets punished and who doesn’t? What moral high ground are the authorities on? Could it be based on the level and strata of society? If it is, then at least draw up a separate law for the haves and the have-nots. That is the least you should do for the people of this land.
I hope that there are others who think along similar lines, especially those from the judiciary arm. Because the judiciary is supposed to be independent of the Executive and the Legislature. This would mean to me that the courts will and must decide that this system of justice is not acceptable by any standards.
If these three VIPs can walk free despite apparently going against the MCO, why not all the others? If today, I had to face such charges, I would ask the court (and I assume I have that right) from which part of the law are these three VIPs exempted? I would want to know that in the interest of justice and whether this law, in particular, is applicable to my case.
For everyone in authority, my message is simple. Refrain from telling me nobody is above the law if you cannot prove it. You are only fooling yourself.
You would earn my respect, Sirs, if you told me that only the common man will face the law. Stop preaching and sounding like you mean business and believe in justice for all because the truth and nothing but the truth is that it exists only in your book of fiction.
Clement Stanley is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.