Winning at all costs

Mariam Mokhtar
Jul 8, 2013

The alleged rape of a 19-year old handball official at the Malaysia Games (Sukma) last week will revive unpleasant memories for the victim and family of another teenager in Malacca. Two years ago, the victim and her family were denied justice when as a 13 year old, she was raped by a Sukma champion.

Her rapist was set free so that he could represent Malaysia in future tournaments. He was allowed to bask in the glory of representing his nation, whilst the victim would spend her life in shame and regret. Court of Appeal President Raus Md Shariff had said that “public interest would not be served” if the rapist was sent to jail as “he had a bright future.”

When will the authorities do the right thing, rather than do things so that the right Malaysian image is presented for public and international consumption? Does the judiciary realise the irony of having a rapist representing the country in sport?

If the government of the country is seen to condone rape and other crimes, what does it say about Umno Baru, the major party in BN? Does winning at all costs for Umno-Baru mean compromising principles, morals and ethics? Are rape victims convenient pawns in Umno Baru’s constant lust for victory?

Last Wednesday’s alleged rape of the Sukma participant took place at the sports village at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). Our trust in the police has been eroded by its failure to serve the rakyat. For decades, Umno Baru politicians have stripped the independence of the police force and made the police serve them, as baruas, thus betraying the rakyat.

How convinced are we, when told that the police will thoroughly investigate this latest alleged rape? It was a foreign NGO which first exposed the rape of the Penan girls in Sarawak. Despite pledges by the police and politicians to bring the rapists of the Penan girls to justice, nothing has happened.

Instead, the Penan women have been branded liars and story-tellers. If the rakyat are cynical about police efforts to stem crime, Umno Baru and the police have only themselves to blame.

The Sukma rape victim claimed that she had gone for a drink with her teammates and had woken up around 4am, semiconscious and naked, with a man on top of her. She alleged that two other men had also raped her.

The police arrested three handball players after a police report was lodged. The IGP, Khalid Abu Bakar, has promised a thorough investigation, and that the case would be treated seriously, as the country’s sporting image was affected by athletes who are alleged criminals.

Every police probe should be thorough

I had naively thought that every police investigation should be thorough. Is preserving the country’s sporting image uppermost in Khalid’s mind? What about the crime itself? What about the victim’s dignity, her mental and physical health, and her future?

Khalid and other readers may recall the incident two years ago, when National Tenpin bowler Noor Afizal Azizan avoided a prison sentence for statutory rape. In 2009, when Noor Afizal was 18 years old, he raped his 13-year old girlfriend, in a hotel room in Ayer Keroh. He was guilty of committing statutory rape (with or without the girl’s consent).

Noor Afizal had represented Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Kedah in Tenpin bowling competitions at Sukma and several other national-level tournaments between 2008 and 2010.

His girlfriend was a minor. They were lovers and although he was the adult, he continued an intimate relationship with her. It was stated at his trial, that “there was a consensual sexual relationship between him and the girl”.

Initially, the Sessions Court in Malacca had placed Noor Afizal on probation for five years with a RM25,000 bond, when he pleaded guilty to the charge of rape. The public prosecutor appealed. The High Court overturned the Sessions court ruling and gave him a five year term in prison.

Noor Afizal lodged an appeal against the High Court judgement, and the Appeal Court overturned his jail sentence. He was bound over to be of good behaviour for five years, with a surety of RM25,000. Had he breached the terms of this order, he would be jailed. In other words, rapists get a second chance; but not their victims.

In last week’s alleged Sukma rape, the victim was heavily intoxicated and was assisted to her room by the three athletes, whom she later alleged had raped her.

The Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, denied reports stating that the victim was an athlete in the women’s handball team; however, he has ordered stern action against the sports council and association, with the possible suspension of athletes, coach and team managers, for bringing alcohol into the games village at UPM.

At every sporting event, athletes are eager to show off their athletic prowess but out of the sporting arena, many athletes are also sexually promiscuous. The competition for medals is as intense as the chase for erotic pleasure, outside the stadium.

At the last Olympics in London, each of the 10,500 athletes was given 15 condoms. Despite strict controls on drugs and alcohol, drinking, having multiple sexual partners and partying were common. Why should it be any different in local Games events?

Will the Sukma investigations conclude that the girl allowed herself to get into a vulnerable position? Will the investigations reveal that there should be no mitigating factors or excuses for men who rape, and that they deserve the most severe forms of punishment?

Women get the raw end of the deal

If those involved were Malay, will the investigation degenerate into another farce in which the rape is sidelined but the consumption of liquor becomes the main focus, prompting another knee-jerk reaction from the religious authorities?

Brutality against women, including domestic violence and rape is a serious problem in Malaysia. People, especially women need to feel safe, but our track record in dealing with rape shows that women get the raw end of the deal.

Men appear to be let off for good behaviour, because our country’s sporting image or a minister’s obsession with stripping the forests of timber and amassing vast personal wealth, are more important.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

  1. #1 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 - 9:51 am

    Wait a second. Before I begin, let me clarify one point. Our stupid home min claimed that we chinese did nothing to fight crime. By that he meant (correct me if my conclusion on his statement is not tenable) our inactivity had contributed to the rise in crimes in the country.

    So errrr has this rape case anything to do with us the chinese? Yes?

    No? Pheeeww. I can continue now.

    As I mentioned before, there are 4 levels to countering crimes. And the first is taking would be criminals off the street by giving them a decent education and job opportunities.

    Chinese contributed something like 60-65 perhaps 70 percent of the country’s economy. That also means the chinese have created a large number of job oppornities for the people. In other words a large number of would-be criminals have actually been taken off the streets purely through that channel alone.

    This channel would have been much more effective but for the umno gobermen’s screw-up which resulted in our ever growing reliance on low labour costs (which means importing cheap labour from neighbouring country when our own boys and girls got a bit expansive to engage).

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 - 12:33 pm

    ” … Court of Appeal President Raus Md Shariff had said that “public interest would not be served” if the rapist was sent to jail as “he had a bright future.” ..”

    This is justice Malaysian style as we know it – skewed and skewered as is common. We just has a person acquitted of murder in Alor Setar and not charged for rape or other offences. Maybe there could be a clamour for justice from the Rulers.

    ”… Does the judiciary realise the irony of having a rapist representing the country in sport? …. ”

    Does anybody at all realise the irony of having a p-performer as the head of a major (now minor) political government party ?

    ” … Despite pledges by the police and politicians to bring the rapists of the Penan girls to justice, nothing has happened… ”

    I remember Wanita UMNO, Shahrizat and others saying some time ago they will be looking into it and asking the government to take action. What happened since then ? What will Nancy Shukri do?

    ”.. I had naively thought that every police investigation should be thorough…. ”.

    We should all get real, face the realities of this country and its institutions until they prove themselves.

    ” … If those involved were Malay, will the investigation degenerate into another farce in which the rape is sidelined but the consumption of liquor becomes the main focus,…. ”

    There will be a need to find 4 reliable witnesses etc else the accused goes scot-free, and the girl has no remedy and has to suffer in silence. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, she will face an even more dangerous fate.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 - 12:42 pm

    In short, the women in this country, Muslims and non-Muslims, should all stand up for women’s rights. Perhaps MM can be a catalyst to make things happen.

    Don’t count on Bung Mokhtar (the leak) or Najib (former hen-pecked, lip-gloss loving Women’s Minister) or Jamil Khir (the sneak) to do the fighting for you.

    • #4 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 - 11:23 pm

      In Malaysia, one of the common words used is malu. Culture, religion, your own principles, your parent’s advises, are your way of life. Like for a girl to drink alchohol in a big city like Kuala Lumpur and in a forgotten tiny town like Belaga. The two scenarios are different. One a willing participant in a drinking party. The other a person who do not think of fighting back until someone from the outside world speaks out. If it is another culture, all those happenings are just part of life. Therefore when you talk about image. The same incident but in two different cultures. One acceptable. One unacceptable. Then when you bring back the medal, everyone claps.

  4. #5 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 - 12:45 pm

    Don’t count on Yen Yen as well as she might be busy touring and spending away.

    And Bung and Zahid might also ask you to migrate if you don’t like it here.

  5. #6 by Hadassah on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 - 7:33 pm

    Indeed, this is a very sad part of Malaysian chronicles. If only the activists would come out to defend the victims and rally against the rapists’ freedom to run around as if nothing happened. Sadly, lawsuits in this case will involve detailed testimonies coming from the victim who is in enough trauma and forgetting the incident will take years to heal. If this is going to be the pattern of things to come in the sports arena, perhaps we can collect a petition in cyber space? For me, I definitely will discourage and not permit my daughter to be a top sportswoman to represent Malaysia. To love Malaysia is a must but to allow my girl to be a possible victim is another matter! Let us perservere in our prayers for UBAH in our beloved country MALAYSIA!

  6. #7 by tuahpekkong on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 - 11:11 pm

    So we only punish those who don’t have a bright future and let off those with bright futures just because public interest would not be served? What a contorted argument. Isn’t everyone equal in the eyes of the law? This reminds me of two rape and murder cases in which a verdict of not guilty was returned.

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