The public canning by the Sessions’ Cout Judge, Zainal Abidin Kamaruddin, in the court premises in the presence of the convicted Muhammad Syafiq Abdul Wahab for a simple robbery this coming July 15, 2009 would be an unprecedented move in our justice system. As far as I know, sentencing was only carried out by prison officers and if canning be imposed this could only be done in prison and out of public eye. The function of the Judge should only be to dispense justice and not to carry out sentencing himself. What purpose will it serve for such a canning of a young person in public and yet done by the Judge personally?
If the Judge is to carry out the canning himself, then, the time is near that a Malaysian Judge may hang his convict by himself! This will be something unheard of in the world and Malaysia will be the first!
We are civilized society and such canning should not be imposed for such a minor offence of robbing an identity card and a cell phone. Ten strokes of rottan will be very painful thing for a young boy.
People robbed everyday and in Malaysia, people were also convicted for drugs trafficking and sentenced to death by hanging, but, yet there were still people who went around to committing such crimes. People committed such crimes which came with it monetary benefits or gain not because they most of the time wanted to commit them, but, because society’s social system had forced them so. Had they enough to eat and had they be taught the right way of life and to treasure their lives, I believe that people who wish to commit crime will be less. Tell me who wants to commit crime just for the sake of committing it!
The effect of canning on such a young man would definitely be traumatic to him and to those who may come to watch the canning. It will definitely leave a lasting scar in the young boy and he may find it difficult to live his life and be shunned by his peers. His parents who will be required to watch the canning will also be left with deep scars in their heart. Will the parents ever love Muhammad Syafiq Abdul Wahab more and live with it just because of the canning? Will it not a form of punishment to Muhammad Syafiq Abdul Wahab’s parents? Should his parents be punished for a crime not committed by his parents? These are questions that a civilized society should answer.
There is a saying that says that justice needs to be done but at the same time, there is a saying that says that justice need be tampered with mercy. In a civilized society, we should no more impose such a harsh, violent and crude way of sentencing.
I still remember vividly sometime around 1982 or 1983 a schoolboy in Alor Gajah, committed suicide after being alleged to have commit theft in a supermarket was ordered by his school principal to make an apology before his school mates. Lim Kit Siang came to see in my police station as I was the officer investigating the case. It was a big story nationwide. The coffin of the boy was nearly been carried to the supermarket.
So, in Muhammad Syafiq Abdul Wahab’s case, I hope his lawyer or the Malaysian Bar Council will take his case to the High Court to revoke the sentencing as being too harsh and violent on a young boy for just robbing a handphone and an identity card.