What can a judge do? Stephen Tan Ban Cheng introduces a poignant tale making the rounds of how justice of a divine variety is realised by a human judge.
With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone. – Oscar Wilde
This is a touching story of a “nenek” who stole a piece of tapioca for her hungry grandchild charged in court in a country rich in natural resources, minerals and oil and gas but the majority of whose rakyat are living below the poverty line. Will the rakyat of Malaysia be in this state under Najib’s Umno rule for the next five years?
As it is, Malaysia is the world champion in GDP in terms of the nation’s plundering, pilfering and siphoning of money to other countries. Ministers’ 100-200 per cent pay hike, GST, subsidy removal, AES implementation nationwide and many more much of it for the benefit and pockets of Umno cronies, but nothing much in comparison for the rakyat.
So those who put Umno in power are to be blamed – getting a one-time RM500-RM1000 payment and you will be sucked through the high prices of GST and subsidy removal forever.
Of course, also in karma’s way will be those who aided and abetted in the many instances of cheating throughout the campaign in GE13 that contributed to the ensuing questionable mandate. Now, here’s the story …
An Indonesian Judge, Marzuki, was sitting in judgment of an old woman who pleaded guilty to stealing some tapioca from a plantation.
In her defence, she pleaded that she did this because she was poor, her son was sick and her grandchild was hungry.
The plantation manager insisted that she be punished as a deterrent to others.
The judge, going through the documents, then looked up and told the nenek, “I’m sorry but I cannot make any exception to the law and you must be punished.”
Accordingly, our nenek was fined Rp1 million (US$100) or jailed two-and-a-half years. She wept as she could not pay the fine.
The judge then took off his hat, put in Rp1 million into it and said, “In the name of justice, I fine all who are in the court Rp50000 (US$5.50) as dwellers of this city and letting a child starve until her grandmother had to steal to feed her grandchild. The registrar shall now collect the fines from all the accused.”
The court collected Rp3.5 million (US$200). Once the fine was paid off, the rest was given to our nenek. The fines collected included those from the plantation manager!
This short story succinctly shows what a judge can do to achieve justice, despite the sometimes inhuman strictures of man-made law. To his eternal credit, Judge Marzuki meted out justice of a divine variety.
Stephen Tan is a journalist with international experience. He is today a New Zealand-trained lawyer with a practice in his hometown of Penang.