By Mariam Mokhtar
The International Business Times reported that, in November 2014, a young man from Malim Nawar, near Kampar had been caught in a Mara hostel, in London, dealing in child pornography. When his digs were raided, the Metropolitan police found 23-year old Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin “with an open laptop, next to a life-size mannequin of a young boy”.
Sara Keane, a spokesman from the Metropolitan Police's Serious Crime Unit said, “Nordin was involved in the making and sharing of some of the most extreme images that have been seen by policemen who work in this field.”
Police seized 30,000 images and videos of child pornography from Nur Fitri’s collection. The images were considered category A (abuse involving penetrative sexual activity with children), as well as thousands from categories B and C.
On 30 April, Nur Fitri was jailed for five years, and will be deported, once he has served his sentence.
Malaysians recoiled in horror at Nur Fitri’s exploits in child pornography, and Mara issued a statement to say that his study loan had been suspended.
After the verdict was announced, at the end of April 2015, Mara said, “However, following his conviction and sentencing, the loan is terminated, with immediate effect and he has to pay back all the money extended to him.”
Incredibly, when the verdict was announced, Mara council member Nazir Hussin Akhtar Hussin was alleged to have said that Nur Fitri was entitled to a second chance, simply because he is a maths genius.
Nazir said, “Any individual who repents, for a mistake, should be given a second chance, after being punished, especially among gifted students who can become national assets.” (sic)
“We will support him in any way possible, to help him rebuild his character, and one way is to give him a chance to study in any Mara institution. He is a smart student and it is a pity to waste someone who can be an asset to the country.”
The turnaround by Mara filled Malaysians with horror but they were further incensed when the Malay group, Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS) suggested that Nur Fitri be allowed to study at a local university, following his deportation.
The GPMS president Jais Abdul Karim said, “GPMS will discuss with Mara on this issue, so Nur Fitri will be allowed to continue his studies in any education institution in this country after he is sent home.” (sic)
The Rural and Regional Development Minister Shafie Apdal allegedly said that he was trying to get a lighter sentence for Nur Fitri.
Shafie’s request was immediately quashed by the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak who said in a blogpost that, “Nur Fitri was on trial in Britain, under the laws of that country, and given a chance to defend himself, and he pleaded guilty. We must respect the law of the country and anyone found guilty must be punished.”
The people who think that this is another simple case of indulging in pornography may need to do some serious self-reflection.
In many parts of the world, distributing, viewing, and making child porn is a crime but unfortunately, Malaysia does not specifically legislate against this. However, the offense of rape and other forms of child sex abuse are punishable under Section 376 and Section 376B of the Penal Code, as well as the Child Act 2001.
Dr Sharifah Halimah, the former president and founder of the NGO, Perak Women for Women (PWW), which deals with abused women and children, is no stranger to the physical and sexual abuse of children.
She said, “The gravity and seriousness of his offence is shocking. It is not something we could brush aside as a mistake. This kind of character should accept the consequences of his actions and face the full measure of the law. His criminal behaviour must be condemned.”
The obstetrics consultant criticised Mara. “What is more shocking and petrifying is the decision of Mara officials to offer him a scholarship, to study in a local university and give him a second chance, as he is an ‘exemplary’ student and a potential asset to the nation.
So what if he is a genius and a Malay? He is a paedophile.”
Lawyer and the Vice President of PWW, S. Sumathi said, “Mara is not only giving a second chance to a paedophile, but encouraging a monster to be introduced into our society.”
“A person who has been convicted, and deemed unsafe to mix with society is welcomed back and will be allowed to interact with young adults. I feel so disappointed that our society gives a second chance to undeserving individuals, for very wrong reasons.”
“We have a sexual predator, who will be introduced into our society. We have to work hard and watch carefully for the safety of our young people both male and female.”
Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said, “It is not possible to fully cure a person with the condition, but we can teach them techniques to control their impulses.”
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Abdul Kadir Abu agreed that rehabilitation would be very difficult and said, “Most countries opt to monitor such offenders, so long as they can give an appearance of stability where they do not approach children, it is fine.”
He stressed that the law enforcement agencies would need to monitor the paedophiles and said, “... But as a father, I would not want him around.”