The sentence pronounced on Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman – seven years of imprisonment, a RM10 million fine and two strokes of the cane – for charges of abetting in criminal breach of trust (CBT), the misappropriation of funds and money laundering amounting to RM1 million rankles when the deputy prime minister recently got away with a DNAA (discharge not amounting to acquittal) for 12 CBT charges, eight counts of bribery and 27 of money laundering, involving scores of millions of ringgit. How does this glaring incongruity square with the benign justice promised by the so-called "Madani" administration?
The disparity in sentences between different individuals raises concerns about the fairness and consistency of Malaysia’s justice system.
1. Disparity in sentences
The case of Muar MP Syed Saddiq receiving a seven-year prison sentence, a RM10 million fine, and two strokes of the cane for charges related to CBT, the misappropriation of funds, and money laundering amounting to RM1 million, highlights a stark contrast with the deputy prime minister's case.
The deputy prime minister received a DNAA for 47 corruption charges, including bribery and money laundering involving substantial sums. This apparent inconsistency raises questions about the equitable application of justice.
2. Use of whipping as punishment
The inclusion of whipping as part of the punishment has sparked criticism, with some arguing that such corporal punishment is barbaric and violates international human rights principles. Whipping is considered a breach of individuals' fundamental rights to respect for human dignity and physical integrity. This aspect of the sentence raises concerns about the appropriateness of the punishment in the context of a modern and rights-respecting legal system.
3. Call for judicial transparency
The statement calls attention to potential flaws in the justice system, prompting a call for increased transparency and accountability. Questions may arise about the factors influencing these disparate outcomes and the need for a fair and transparent judicial process.
4. International human rights standards
The use of corporal punishment on adults, such as whipping, is viewed as a violation of international human rights principles and underscores the need for Malaysia to align its legal practices with global standards. The international community's expectations regarding the treatment of individuals accused of financial crimes involves justice in sentencing that befits the crime and the amount of money involved.
A fair and transparent judicial system that upholds human rights standards is a more constructive way to address concerns about the perceived inconsistency in sentencing.
Kua Kia Soong is a human rights activist.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.