This Deepavali, a tale of two mothers - Panchalai and Rosmah - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, November 04, 2021
Malaysiakini :He doesn’t really get what is happening. He has some
vague idea that something is going to happen to him on the 10th of
November but he thinks he is going to go to a beautiful garden and be
happy there. It’s beyond words.” - N Surendran
COMMENT | This Deepavali, two mothers will be in Singapore to visit their offspring.
Supermaniam who works as a cleaner will visit her intellectually
challenged son in prison who is to be executed on Nov 10 and Rosmah
Mansor, the wife of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is
currently on trial for receiving bribes, will be visiting her pregnant
daughter, no doubt in more luxurious circumstances.
One child will
be executed and the other will give birth. One mother will know the
anguish of loss and the other will greet a new life with joy. While
Panchalai has to rely on the goodwill of strangers to raise money for
her final trip to see her son, the other faces no such obstacles.
Indeed, while the alleged crimes of Rosmah amount to millions, the
son of Panchalai is going to be executed for strapping a couple of grams
of diamorphine to his thighs.
If this does not tell us something about the justice system, here and in Singapore, well there is nothing more to say.
Deepavali, two mothers will have very different conversations with
their children. Panchalai child belongs to a class of children - of any
race - which has felt the brunt of the failed policies of successive
“children of Malaysia” are the forgotten children; those children that
the state has deemed transgressed against the state.
politicians and their cronies steal money from public coffers and
practise divisive politics, these children - drug mules to capitalists
of the black economy who bribe and conspire with state actors - face the
I have no idea how Panchalai will react to
seeing her son. As someone who has witnessed final moments of visits in
situations like these, I can tell you, it normally does not go well.
are at the mercy of an uncaring system that only seeks to carry out a
mandate efficiently without any remorse or understanding.
K Dharmalingam apparently has only a vague idea of his fate so perhaps,
this may be a blessing of some kind, or maybe it won't be because he
would no doubt see his mother in so much distress.
words can you say to your child? What final comfort can you give your
child who you know is going to his or her death?
have always had a problem with executing drug mules. Most people who
are hung for this offence are so low down the criminal food chain, their
effects on society are minimal at best.
The real drug
entrepreneurs are living in luxury. Most of them are politically
connected. Most of them launder their money through institutions that
good god-fearing people use.
When not busy corrupting the state
security apparatus, they are corrupting the political process. Does the
death penalty really seem appropriate for those people who are so low
down the food chain while the real masterminds are probably propping up
the banking institutions and the economy of the country?
However, most people do not care about the fate of a convicted drug mule facing the death penalty in Singapore.
when it comes to human rights, drugs and the death penalty, most people
couldn’t care less about these people, believing they deserve what they
get. Indeed as a human rights issue, it does not move people because
ultimately nobody cares about the fate of criminals.
the process in Singapore and the happy ending (sort of ) of another
young Malaysian, please refer to freelance journalist and activist
Kristen Han’s piece here.
Rosmah, who belongs to a class of political elite whose lifestyle is
public knowledge and documented in the press, is going to be having a
very different kind of conversation with her daughter this Deepavali.
doubt some pregnancies are complicated but the conversations that
happen between mother and expectant mother will revolve around new life
and the possibilities that come with it.
A new life in a wealthy
family and the innumerable possibilities that come with it. A new life
of privilege and resources, which places some people far from the
reality of what the Nagaethran family is going through.
No victory in sight
this is what it is, isn't it? Doesn’t matter if you are Malay, Chinese
or Indian. If you are poor and you make bad choices, the consequences
are different for you. Your crimes are different. The justice system is
I know there will be tears. I know both mothers will
probably cry. One out of sorrow and the other out of joy. I recall how
Rosmah cried at her hearing. Describing how she was maliciously and
I wonder if Pancahalai feels the same way of
how her son was treated. I can imagine her tears at the prospect of her
intellectually challenged son being executed by a system that somehow
always finds ways to make the consequences of bad choices different
based on wealth and privilege.
They say Deepavali symbolises the
victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over
ignorance. This tale of two mothers demonstrates that there is no
victory in sight.