Saturday, 8 January 2011

House Breaking: The Rape of your sanctuary

In Petaling Jaya, it is very common to see a Home, with these :-
1. Alarm
3. Triple lock (some quandraple)
4. Guards

These are measure that Home owners take to safeguard the safety of their home. Despite these efforts, people's house still get broken in. Last year, my family home was broken in (have said that a few times already on this blog). A few days ago, a neighbor, living 2 doors away had their house broken in too. My neighbor's sister at Taman Megah also suffered a break in on the same day.

Today, in the Star, you will read the news about the famous blogger Rocky Bru. His house was broken 2 nights ago. This is despite the fact his house is guarded and also he triple locked his home. He lost his car, his son's scooter and some watches (amongst others).

We may need expert and statistics to support some contention that our Police is weak, but if we speak from what we see and we feel, one cant help but conclude that one major reason for the rampant house breaking in Klang Valley is due to weak policing. Corruption is a major problem. When an organisation is filled with corrupt officers, eventually it will lead to breakdown of the system at that organisation. This issue has been raised perhaps a million times in news & blogs in Malaysia; but seriously, how much has been done to ensure the Police do what they are legally paid to do; ie to protect & ensure safety of the people of Malaysia.

I feel for Rocky Bru. It is not what one lose in a house breaking which hurts; but it is the intrusion into a person's sanctuary.

Once one's home is broken in; it never feels the same again.
Fear crepts in to the resident of the broken home.
Confidence is low.
Suspicion is high.

Victims of homes broken in, more often than not, dont live in full enjoyment of their home anymore. There is always that niggling fear that when you return home, you may either find your home broken or worst, bump into the perpetrators themselves.

One day; if this Government is not politically concern enough to genuinely and honestly enforce powerful ant-corruption laws; not morally concern enough to ensure the People whom it govern, feels safe; not legally imposing laws on the very people who is suppose to police us, then this country may see a breakdown in the soul of the system. When people dont believe in the system anymore, than we wont be a country, but just a big cowboy town.

On a personal note, on many occasion when family or friends meet up; we inadvertently talk about this issue. It seems like more and more of my friends and relatives suffer house breaking crimes. We should be talking about Malaysia winning Suzuki Cup; or the upcoming Chinese New year. Instead, the conversations is usually dominated by fear of our safety and lives.

It is sad, that discussions and conversations amongst family members/friends is no more about celebration of life; but the fear of living.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Pleading your case, Bargaining your way through

What is Plea Bargaining? It is a process of negotiation in criminal litigation between the Prosecutor & the Accused. It is common to see Plea Bargaining in TV series about lawyers and police. So, we may have our own perception on how plea bargaining works. But the reality in Malaysia, is a little different than what you see on TV.

Usually Plea Bargaining is used to avoid a Trial, and at the stage of plea bargaining; both the Prosecution and Defence, can gauge their respective strengths. If one of the parties feel they may not have a strong case, plea bargaining may be an option. For the Prosecution, so long as a conviction is recorded, they may have done their part; and conversely for the Defence, if they can lower the sentence of the Accused (or in some cases, secure a release) that would be a moral victory to the Accused.

In Malaysia, as a matter of practise, lawyers defending the Accused, would usually write to the Prosecution, what is normally called a “Letter of Representation”. Very much like Plea Bargaining, the Letter of Representation would present the views and proposals of the Accused to the Prosecution. Usually the said Letter would urge the Prosecution to either release the Accused; or charge the Accused for a lower offence.

The proposed Plea Bargaining procedure by the Malaysian Judiciary, recently reported in local dailies, suggests that the judiciary wish to have in place a specific procedure to allow both parties to negotiate an acceptable conclusion before presenting the same to the Judge. From the Judge’s point of view, this would mean quicker end to the case; which would also mean lesser costs and more judicial time to hear other cases.

There is much benefit to have this system in place, but caution must be placed in its implementation. As the President of the Bar, Ragunath Kesavan, was quoted to say in another daily, Plea Bargaining is not a new concept in Malaysia. In fact, what the judiciary proposed, seems to formalize what is already in place, in practice.

But the implementation must be carefully studied, so as to avoid the possibility of abuse and corrupt practise. The current practise of sending in Letter of Representation can be a slow and sometime cumbersome process. But it has its merits, in that it minimize the possibility of corruption. The Letter of Representation from the Accused is usually studied by the State Prosecution Headquarters, and after some discussion between the prosecution and the Police or other relevant agencies, the Prosecution will decide which way they wish to take.

Plea Bargaining, done in Court itself, would see both parties having direct communication and discussion on the matter. Some kind of discretion would have to be given to the Prosecution Officer at that Court to decide which way the case may go. This would be much faster than the current system, but there must be check and balance so as to avoid the parties involved, abusing the plea bargaining process.

We have to take into account another silent party in the entire Plea Bargaining, and that would be the victim of the crime (or in some cases, the family of the victim).

The victims, would normally wish to have their day in court, and would usually demand the maximum sentence on the Accused. If Plea Bargaining is too loosely applied, leading to (for example) lower sentences in many cases, then we would have a fair amount of unsatisfied victims, who may feel that justice was not done.

In most instances, plea bargaining would lead to a lower sentence for the Accused. That being the usual conclusion of Plea Bargaining, the victims of the crime may feel that they were denied an opportunity for their day in court & also, as mentioned, the sentence meted out was an injustice to them.

However, any proposed move to improve the delivery of legal services to the people is much appreciated. Hopefully, Plea Bargaining can go some way to help clear the backlog in Criminal Courts.


Thursday, 6 January 2011

TBH Inquest : The Verdict in a Nutshell

The Teoh Beng Hock (TBH) Inquest was held to investigate the death of TBH on 16 July 2009.

At the Inquest, these facts emerged:-

TBH was interviewed at the Selangor State Government building in the afternoon of 15 July 2009 by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). He was then asked by MACC officers to follow them to the Selangor MACC Office at Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam on the same day. On 16 July 2009, about 1 o’ clock in the afternoon, TBH’s body was discovered at the service corridor of Plaza Masalam.

The judge in such an Inquest is called a Coroner. The Coroner in these Inquests will try to ascertain on how a person died. The Coroner may conclude that the deceased was killed or the death was accidental. In some instances, the Coroner may conclude suicide.

On 5 January 2011, the Coroner in the TBH Inquest made the following conclusions:-

1. Was it suicide?

The Coroner first considered if TBH had committed suicide. The Coroner ruled suicide out. He felt that the testimony provided by TBH’s brother, Teoh Meng Kee revealed that TBH was supposed to get married and had no psychological illness. Further, the so-called suicide note was inconclusive. The Coroner pointed out that the said note has not been ascertained to contain TBH’s handwriting. Secondly, no sample of TBH’s writing was obtained for purposes of investigation and examination.

The Coroner also pointed out that no psychiatrist report was provided on TBH’s state of mind. On these evidences, the Coroner felt that if he was to conclude suicide as the cause of death, it would have been some form of guess work. He refused to do so and ruled out suicide as mentioned above.

2. Was there homicide?

The Coroner referred to the evidences provided by the medical experts at the Inquest. He concluded that there exists sufficient evidence to confirm that TBH suffered a pre-fall injury. The pre-fall injury was the neck injury. However, the Coroner felt that there was lack of evidence to confirm that the neck injury facilitated or resulted, or contributed to the demise of TBH.

The Coroner also took into account the medical evidence that the neck injury most likely caused TBH to be in such a state that would render TBH incapable of exiting the window on his own. The medical evidence suggest that the neck injury on TBH may have rendered him unconscious or in a state of confusion. Apparently the neck injury could have caused a reduction in the level of oxygen reaching the brains of TBH. However the Coroner felt the evidence before him was not sufficient beyond reasonable doubt, that there exists homicide.

3. Verdict

In conclusion, the Coroner felt that the only decision that he can come to is a finding of an Open Verdict. An Open Verdict would mean that the cause of death cannot be determined in the Inquest.

(See alternative posting at

Sunday, 2 January 2011

We are the Champions!

Malaysia won the AFF Cup aka Suzuki Cup just before the end of 2010. What a way to celebrate the new year!

Close friends of mine would know that I love football, particularly my State team, Perak; my favorite English team, Everton, and of course Malaysia.

However the Malaysian National football team (& for that matter, to a large extent; Perak too) has been so poor for so many years, that no matter how loyal I want to be, it was just too disheartening to support them. Please dont judge me as a supporter of only-winning-teams (if that is my criteria of supporting a team, I wont be supporting Everton); but it was down to the way Malaysia played. The National team for many years played poorly. We could not string more than 3 passes. Got beaten by lesser pedigree teams. Suspected of corruption. etc etc.

But on the 26th December, we played very well to beat Indonesia 3-0 at the first leg of the 2-leg final of the AFF Cup. Chow Hoong & I went for that match, and the atmosphere was thrilling. 65000 Malaysians supporting our boys, and they did not disappoint.

Half way through the 1st half, Chow Hoong turned to me and said "these boys link-play is bloody good. I think we can actually take on Indonesia". I could not agree more. Before our very eyes, we see a group of young Malaysian players trying their best to win for the Country, and they tried it in style.

When we both walked out of the Bukit Jalil Stadium, a sense of pride surrounded us. We just saw our boys beat the hell out of the favorite Indonesian team (who beat us 5-1 in Jakarta in the opening group match a few weeks ago).

Surprisingly, the tension was overwhelming the next few days. A team leading 3-0 should be relaxed and composed; but I think the sense of fear to fail overwhelmed the entire nation. They was a massive fear that we would collapse, as our National team always do at the last stage.

But that did not happen. We held our fort at Jakarta for the 2nd leg, and took a 1-0 lead in the 65th min. That effectively gave us a 4 goal lead in aggregate. Even though we lost that match 1-2, but we still won 4-2 on aggregate.

I was in Singapore during the 2nd leg, and the overwhelming feeling of pride and joy was all over me. For too long Malaysian fans has suffered in silence, and finally, we could happily celebrate a win. We are finally, the Champions of South East Asia!

There were allegations that Malaysian fans shot laser lights at the Indonesian players at Bukit Jalil stadium. I was at the stadium, and did see some laser lights shot at the Indonesian goalkeeper. It was unfortunate it happened, and though we are not 100% sure it was done by Malaysian fans; but I think it is safe to conclude that it is very unlikely that the Indonesian fans would shoot laser at their own player. In any event, the 3 goals scored by the Malaysians at Bukit Jalil was more down to determined play and poor defending by Indonesians (& not the alleged laser lights).

Well done Malaysia & Happy New Year!