HUMAN rights activist Peter John Jaban has condemned the sentence of caning handed down to Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman (main pic) as disproportionate to the crime in question and very unnecessary in modern times.
He further urged the current de-facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said to see through the abolition of caning as a form of punishment.
“Whipping is a barbaric practice that puts Malaysia out of step with the international community and human rights advocates. It is a relic from 19th century colonial rule that in my view, has no place in modern Malaysian society, particularly for a white-collar crime such as this,” contended Jaban who is also the Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) deputy president.
“This punishment often leaves the subject scarred for life. It is an exercise in humiliation and an exertion of dominance by the state. It leaves a mark long after the offender has served his time and is free to return to society, a presumption that all convicted criminals are entitled to.”
Added Jaban: “Another key principle of law is that the sentence should be proportionate to the crime. While we abhor corruption of all forms, he will also be serving a seven-year custodial sentence and subject to a substantial fine.
For context, Syed Saddiq, 30, had on Nov 9 been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, a RM10 mil fine and two strokes of the cane for all charges of abetting in criminal breach of trust (CBT), misappropriation of funds and money laundering related to the Bersatu Armada funds amounting to RM1.12 mil.
He was also the first politician to be sentenced to whipping after being found guilty of the charges framed under Section 4(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
The supposedly “most active among Sarawakian activists” deemed the addition of corporal punishment for Syed Saddiq as a step too far for it has yet “to be imposed on other politicians accused of similar or even worse examples of graft”.
“The former MUDA president is not a violent crime offender. This is not a repeat offender. What possible justification can there be for this level of state-sanctioned violence against him?” wondered Jaban.
“The condemned in this case is a young man with a life of public service behind him. Once he has served his sentence, there is every reason to believe that he will be fully rehabilitated and continue to make a decent contribution to society. He is an Oxford graduate, an intelligent young man of good family, and not to forget, a Syed.” – Nov 14, 2023