By K Veeriah
When an economically deprived individual stands convicted for, say, ‘stealing’ a tin of Milo, it fails to capture our attention, as we are indoctrinated with the concept that “a theft is a theft”, regardless of the monetary value of the item involved.
In legal terms, that individual has committed a ‘crime’, and we can only feel sorry for him or her when confronted with the constitutionally established legal framework, regardless of the circumstances that forced the individual to commit the ‘offence’.
Only when some conscience-stricken member of the legal fraternity stands up for the economically marginalised individual would there be hope for restitution.
Premised upon a judicious finding of guilt involving a stratospheric amount of money by successive layers of the judiciary, it would be expected of the people to accept the judicial finding – a theft being a theft standing on the same footing of guilt whether it was a tin of Milo or unholy amounts of money!
Between the ordinary economically deprived person convicted of ‘stealing’ a tin of Milo and the theft of millions of ringgit by the privileged, the divide obviously lies in the capability of those in privilege to incite their herd to believe that they are victims of “selective prosecution” – and, in the same breath, cast aspersions on the impartiality of the entire judicial hierarchy.
Obviously, such a challenge is beyond the capacity of the ordinary economically deprived person convicted of ‘stealing’ a tin of Milo!
Yet again, between the ordinary economically deprived person and the privileged, the distinction is that those in power can orchestrate a movement against the constitutionally established status quo, whereas the ordinary economically deprived person stands powerless in the circumstances.
The dictum “might is right” may well be an apt narrative in the divide between the ordinary economically deprived person and the privileged.
K Veeriah is a veteran trade unionist based in Bukit Mertajam, Penang