The limit to second chances

By Pauline Wong

If an outsider had been observing Malaysian news these past few weeks, he or she would probably be very confused by now.

From Muslims who are afraid of a cross to the ‘is-there or is-there-not’ a Goods and Services Tax on mobile phone top-ups, a foreigner just getting acquainted with Malaysia would probably be very puzzled.

But perhaps the most puzzling of all is the way a minister and an entire educational institution are falling over themselves to give a convicted pedophile a ‘second chance’ to come home to study.

I repeat the words, ‘convicted pedophile’ for good measure here.

Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) scholarship student Nur Fitri Azmeer Noordin, 23, was last week reported to have been arrested and convicted in the United Kingdom in November for possessing over 30,000 images and videos of “some of the most extreme” child pornography the British police had ever seen.

Nur Fitri (Pic from Astro Awani)

Nur Fitri (Pic from Astro Awani)

It was reported that police raided his home in London and found him sitting beside a life-sized mannequin of a young boy, with his laptop open. He reportedly possessed 601 “Category A” videos and images, which depicted abuse involving penetrative sexual acts with children.

Mara had earlier announced that it had terminated Nur Fitri’s scholarship since the latter was arrested last year by the London Metropolitan Police; but just yesterday Mara council member, Nazir Hussin Akhtar Hussin told mStar that Nur Fitri will be given a chance to continue his studies once he returns home.

“In unofficial discussions, council members and the Mara chairman have agreed to give him a second chance after he serves his sentence.

“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 was quoted as saying, adding that this ‘second chance’ would be given to any scholar in the same situation.

Mara is not the only one who appeared forgiving of the convicted pedophile — Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal had said his ministry is considering appealing Nur Fitri’s five-year sentence.

On the internet, however, social media were unanimous in it outrage that this convicted pedophile would be given a ‘second chance’.

Without going into details, no one wanted a convicted pedophile in their midst, and were aghast at Mara and Shafie Apdal for even suggesting that this convicted pedophile is ‘forgiven’.

Now, to put this whole situation in context, Nur Fitri is a man who was in possession of thirty thousand hardcore sexual images involving minors. He scoured the deep recesses of the internet and he sought out these images voluntarily. He even had a mannequin of a young boy with him.

You do not need to be a parent to contemplate the sheer horror of his actions.

The human trafficking industry, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, is one of the most lucrative illicit businesses in Europe, with criminal groups making about US$3 billion from it per year, and is the third most lucrative business after arms and drugs.

It is a global problem and most human trafficking of minors are for sexual exploitation, especially girls.

Last year, Dutch-based rights group Terre des Hommes went ‘undercover’ in the guise of a 10-year-old computer generated ‘girl’ to lure potential predators via webcam.

‘Sweetie’, as the ‘girl’ is known, attracted over 20,000 users in 71 countries — including Malaysia — who approached Sweetie on internet chat groups to pay her to perform obscene and explicit sexual acts for them.

Every year, tens of thousands of girls and boys go missing, from all corners of the world, lost to human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and this ‘business’ is lucrative because there is a demand for it — demand from people like Nur Fitri.

Girls and boys, no older than 13, are subjected to obscene sexual acts — all because people like Nur Fitri are sitting in front of their computers, looking for them.

While there is no need to brutalise Nur Fitri the same way he had been involved in the brutalisation of those innocent children, there is also no need to welcome him home and give him a ‘second chance’ to study, or ‘consider’ appealing for his sentence to be reduced.

Nur Fitri should serve the full five-year sentence and when he is deported to Malaysia, he should be placed under the strictest surveillance, while receiving professional psychological help.

Because how many more are there like him? Men who prey on children? Already Malaysia received global scorn for allowing adult men to marry mere children.

In 2013, Riduan Masmud, 40, was initially charged with raping a girl, who was 12 years and six months old, inside a car parked by the roadside, and the charges were dropped because he later married her with ‘consent’.

Think for a second, if your precious little girl was raped and then later married to her rapist. Think for a second that your rambunctious young son was being put on display for sick perverts on the internet.

If the mere thought of those things turn your stomach, then second chances are never an option.

There are limits to second chances, and this is where the line gets drawn.

– The Rocket

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