A lot of things have been said about what is said to be an unusual decision of our Malaysian court involving a local bowling player who was convicted of statutory rape but released under “good behaviour” bond.
The bond is considered by people as a “lesser” kind of punishment than the earlier prison sentence. Thus, many are not happy because he is not sent to prison but instead released to assimilate with society.
As a student of law, we learnt many ways on how judges derive his decision on sentencing a person. In the end, it is up to the judge to decide based on the arguments raised by both defense counsel (for the accused) and the prosecutor (on behalf of the state). Sometimes, an accused cannot afford a lawyer so he is left on his own to tell the judge why he should not get harsh sentence.
Some people say that it does not matter that much if an accused does not have a lawyer. Well, it does matter. Justice, no matter how elusive it may be, should serve both sides. Such is the commercial nature of an adversarial system inherited to us as a by-product of colonisation and perhaps also the greatest gift by the British for us (and many countries around the world).
From a legal standpoint, the decision by the Court of Appeal, created a precedent to all lower courts. This decision may revolutionise for defense lawyers to mitigate for “lighter” sentences for their clients. In a different light, it could be seen as lacunae (loophole in Latin), in which decision is so absurd that goes against the fabric of criminal justice system and may open up the floodgates of convicts listing out reasons of appeal under the heading and basis of a “promising future”.
Forgive me, but the answer to these exciting questions is beyond me at present moment.
As humanity progresses and civil rights movements’ flourishes, we should ponder ourselves whether we all Malaysian realise the kind of influence we have in our criminal justice system.
We must stay vigilant and tell the government the kind of message we want to send to the world.
The judges hands are somewhat tied by myriad and plethora of decided cases. Despite this, every case is a unique one and must be decided by merits. It is also up to the kind of eloquent arguments raised by the lawyers in the court to assist the court in a “just” decision. In the end, it is up to the presiding judge’s discretion to pronounce an appropriate verdict.
Personally, I sympathise judges for the low remuneration and the kind of pressure they have to embrace daily in deciding on what is an “appropriate” punishment to represent our “Malaysian culture”. Perhaps it’s one of those occupational hazards. The kind of similar sentiment I have towards all the doctors for all the kinds of cock-ups that life has to offer.
I think, collectively as a nation, we stand guilty of modern day stigmatisation and public shaming — taking advantage of the miseries and sufferings of the unrecognised victims by starting our own prejudices for our own good self-righteousness.
A convicted “promising future” bowler, now well-known widely thanks to our efficient mainstream media and all those freelance journalists on social media platforms so quick disseminating news about every people’s conducts and judging every single action of others.
Perhaps, the earlier decision of the court to send the bowler to jail would be a better one. Incarceration from society would definitely safeguard humanity and the prison is our last bastion of hope to keep us safe from the most dangerous and vicious criminals.
It would really save him from public shaming and booing from people every time he goes out in public. Would this decision be a more appropriate one? I mean, what would be an “appropriate” decision for you?
How much more public shaming should a person receive until the person is fully “rehabilitated”? Does the person even deserve any kind of sympathy or entitled to have remorse? Should a bad person receive a “second chance”? What if the person goes to jail and go out and do bad things again? What if this happened? What if that happened?
And yet, who shall be the judge?