Thursday, August 13, 2015

Justice delayed is justice denied

Justice delayed is justice denied is a popular legal maxim that means if legal redress is not forthcoming in a timely manner, it is akin to having no redress at all.

I believe the friends and family members of marketing executive Chee Gaik Yap who was raped and murdered in 2006 would heartily agree with this.

On Aug 9, almost ten years after her tragic demise, businessman Shahril Jaafar was sentenced to death by the Alor Star High Court for Chee's murder.

Despite the weight of the crime that he was accused off, Shahril almost got away with it on two occasions.

The first was when he skipped police bail and left for Perth, Australia, where he obtained permanent resident status. He was rearrested six years later upon his return on Jan 17, 2012.

He was charged two weeks later and stood trial, only to be acquitted by the High Court on June 25, 2013, without his defence being called.

In an emotionally charged scene, moments after the High Court discharged and acquitted Shahril of murdering his daughter, Chee Ah Sau barged out of the courtroom located on the second floor of the building and attempted to jump off the balcony, he was pulled to safety by press photographers, policemen and family members.

Speaking to reporters later, a heartbroken Ah Sau said: "I want justice for my daughter, I have waited so long, but it turned out like this."

Ah Sau's determination in seeking justice for his daughter finally paid off on Sunday. But as he told reporters, it remains to be seen if the accused will appeal his sentence and conviction.

Besides the long and painful wait for justice, Ah Sau and his family also had to endure the pain of seeing his daughter's reputation besmirched by the accused.

In his defence, Shahril resorted to painting Gaik Yap as a scarlet woman, saying she was a prostitute and that sex between them was consensual.Words that hurt an already grieving family

In an impact statement recorded by the court after Shahril was sentenced, Ah Sau said: "My daughter was not a prostitute, she was a university graduate and had a bright future ahead of her.

"She had been planning to go to Germany to gain work experience. Everything was ready. The tickets had been bought, then it happened," he said.

According to Ah Sau, Gaik Yap the third of six siblings, was an intelligent girl and the only one of his daughters with a university degree.

He described her as the hope of the family, and I am sure she would have achieved much if she was still alive today.

A bright light that was wiped out to soon because of one's man lust and capacity for violence.

But Shahril is only one of many such predators that lurk in society, and as the story of Gaik Yap has shown us, as heinous as the crime can be, justice can be a long time in coming.

Even now as I write this, there can be no telling when this rapist and murderer will actually go to the gallows.


More on this story:
Gaik Yap a good and intelligent daughter, says father
Man wants Karpal to seek justice for murdered daughter

Borneo Post Online
Star Online

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Father's Day

It is said that one would do anything for one's own flesh and blood, that the love of a parent for a child knows no bounds. That a father or mother would make great sacrifices for the wellbeing of their children, but does this great love extend to spilling the blood of another?

Is it called love when the life of one child is sacrificed so another can thrive? Does the sacrifices a parent makes for a child extend to slaughtering the child of another?

In a tale filled with more evil than love, one man had no qualms about luring a little boy to meet his end in a cruel manner, in the hopes that it might cure his sick teenage son who appeared to be possessed by a ghost.

According to Kodai Harijan, his 18-year-old son Bijay frequently fell ill. However this time around the ailing teenager who appeared to be possessed by a spirit, demanded for human flesh.

This incident took place in a village in southwest Nepal bordering India, where most of the populace are illiterate and poor - making it a hotbed for superstitious beliefs and where shamans are treated as veritable gods for their perceived magical powers.

The sacrifice of animals such as goats and buffaloes are not uncommon either, however no matter how backward their beliefs might be, it defies the very laws of basic humanity, that one would stoop to snatching and slaughtering the child of another, so that one's own child might prosper.

But this is exactly what this monster who calls himself a father did, he stepped out of his home in search of a sacrificial victim when he chanced upon the 10-year-old son of his neighbour playing with friends, the boy's parents were away tending to their crops.

Jivan Kohar's body was found three days after he was murdered. CNN Pic
It was the perfect opportunity, Kodai lured the child with a packet of biscuits and the promise of 50 rupees in return for following him. When Jivan Kohar got up to follow Kodai and his relatives, little did the poor child know that he would never see his family, friends and home ever again.

One can only imagine at what point in this horrific journey towards death, did the child realise that something was amiss. 

But what we do know from Kodai's own admission is that the boy was taken to a temple on the outskirts of the village where the shaman Ganga Harijan performed a prayer ritual after which Kodai and his relatives took Jivan to an open field.

One man held his arms and head while another held his feet, at this point Kodai stepped forth and slit the struggling child's throat with a sickle. 

Jivan's lifeless body was then dumped in a bush near the Shiwan temple on the banks of the Patera river. 

For three days, Jivan's parents searched for him aided by the other villagers, Kodai their neighbour also offered to look for the missing boy. He must have seen their grief, one wonders what he felt at that time, guilt perhaps? But secure in the fact that his son would be cured and continue to thrive to an old age, unlike the tragic little boy who was slaughtered, his corpse left to rot by the river, so a blood thirsty spirit might be appeased.

Kodai however is no slick criminal, days earlier he had told a village council that human sacrifice was needed to cure his ailing son, according to Jivan's grandfather. People laughed him off, not realising that he would actually go through with it.

After his arrests, he confessed to his crime, but what a strange confession, he said that he felt bad for "offering" Jivan as a sacrifice, adding that he was the only boy to be found at that time.

Which means that he was only sorry for grabbing his neighbour's son, but that he would have sacrificed another child anyway. 

One wonders if he would have stopped at sacrificing one child if he was not arrested. What if the spirit that supposedly possessed his son demanded more blood in order to be appeased.

The temple where the prayer ritual took place, before Jivan was taken to a field and murdered. CNN Pic

What is even more disturbing about this crime is that the prayer ritual conducted by the shaman took place in a temple where photos of the Goddess Durga, Goddess Kali and Lord Hanuman were found.

As any Hindu would know, the three deities are powerful gods who serve as protectors of humanity, this earthly realm and all living beings. It defies thought that this man, his relatives and the so called holy man performed a prayer on sanctified ground with the intention of spilling the blood of a child.

But that is exactly what they did, his screams of terror must have echoed through those very temple walls when he was slaughtered in the field nearby. The stench from his corpse that lay hidden in a bush for three days before it was found, must have pervaded the walls of the shrine too.

In the defence of this man, some might say it was a poor village of lower caste folk, their head filled with superstitious beliefs, where the words  of shamans hold sway, that he was desperate to save his ailing son.

But one does not need to be educated to have compassion, to be humane. Literally everyday on social media we see stories of people who have so little but give so much, simple rustic folk with big hearts.

If this man loved his son so much, he should have known how much Jivan's family would have loved him too. How crushed they would be to lose him, and in such a tragic manner too. How can any parent come to terms with the fact that their child was slaughtered as a human sacrifice.

I doubt Kodai knows the depth of love a parent would feel for their child, despite having fathered a son himself. If he had ever felt such love, he would never have raised a sickle to slit that little boy's throat.

Being illiterate and superstitious is no excuse, he was mean, selfish and cruel, intent on preserving his own progeny at the cost of pain and suffering to another.

Its not education and knowledge that makes a man great, it is compassion, whether one lives in a gilder manner or a mud hut.

Greed is also a central tenet in this story, the want and desires of men who propel them to commit inhumane acts to please unseen powers in the hopes of gaining what they want.

More on this story:
Young Nepalese boy slain in human sacrifice ritual

10-year-old boy sacrificed to cure local youth in Nawalparasi

Boy murdered in suspected human sacrifice