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At the outset I must qualify myself that I am no legal expert. I am but an ordinary Malaysian concerned with any development that affects the socio- economic and cultural  environment in my beloved country. And  I feel compelled to express my piece.

Since the  uproar which erupted following the release of a 19 year old male former national bowler who had admitted raping a 13 year old girl, on a good behaviour bond of RM25K, I have been thinking hard about the implications of that judgement made by a three-man court of Appeal panel.

I did not have to wait long as two weeks later a judge of a lower court meted out the same sentence to another man, a 22 year old electrician who raped his 12 year old girlfriend.

The law is apparently very clear on convicted rapists in statutory rape cases. They face mandatory jail sentence. In fact the High Court in this case, meted out the custodial sentence in place of the good behavior bond issued earlier by a lower court and later controversially upheld by the court of Appeal.

In the first case of the national bowling champion, his lawyer successfully argued that sentencing the former to jail would not serve public interest as he had a bright future. And the learned judges agreed citing that the sexual act was consensual and there was no violence and coercion involved. And all the time they were thinking of the perpetrator and forgetting the victim. Coincidently all the judges were males. And by the way, could there be any other influencing factors? Only God knows as I would not want to speculate even if I could substantiate my accusation with evidences! And I hasten to add I don’t have any. All I have is confusion, unhappiness and resentment at that kind of judgement which sets an undesirable  precedent for future such cases.

The basis for the two  judgement is hard to swallow.

A good looking and famous young man and a besotted young girl who would do anything to keep her popular catch. What did she know about consent at that age? It was pure attraction and lust. The boy should have known better and ignorance of the law, I thought, is no defence. That is why women’s groups, NGOs and concerned public and parents “condemned” that judgement. And there is no contempt of court here as this is a spontaneous public outcry. The court will not have enough rooms for the thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousand of Malaysian who deplored that judgement, looking at the widespread dissatisfaction and anger expressed in the  mainstream and social media.

The law on statutory rape  is enacted to protect vulnerable children below the age of consent (16 in our country) but the judges in this case chose to protect the perpetrator’s future based on garbled reasoning and are subsequently  seen to be sending the wrong signals to future offenders namely paedophiles and child rapists. It’s a scary world for parents out there.

In the immediate successive case of statutory rape, the sole lady judge chose to issue a similar judgement and this time, besides apparently the act being consensual, low education of the perpetrator  and first time offender crap were given as reasons for the non-custodial sentence. Again the rights and welfare of the victim were ignored.

I agree  fully with a retired judge that ‘consent’ in statutory rape should not have been considered in the judgement here. If consent was involved why bother having a special law for this particular kind of rape? The former judge whom I had the honour of having personally met in one of the legal courses sponsored by our company , pointed out “ Under Section 375(g) of the Penal Code, statutory rape is defined as someone who has sexual intercourse with a woman “with or without her consent, when she is under 16 years of age”.

The bigger picture with focus on the well being of society at large was unfortunately  tossed at the wayside. It is a sad day indeed for concerned Malaysians. Human rights for all indeed. What bloody crap!

An appalling lack of insight and selective dementia are in full glare here. And sadly, too,  out of range of the sentiment  and sensitivities of the  general public.

I respect the judges and their respective ruling but I am deeply disappointed with the men and woman who, given the power and authority to act in the public interest, have failed to rise to the occasion.

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