How I came to be a fascist party-pooper

If you live in Malaysia you’d have to be an utter worm not to notice that, at some fundamental level, the Government has gone off the rails. No one since Dr Mahathir has had the sheer balls to provide anything remotely resembling leadership—by which I mean doing what you think is good for the people even if the people are too daft to understand it.

Do you remember Morgan Freeman’s (i.e. Nelson Mandela’s) line in Invictus when he’s about to go head-on with his comrades at the sports club? Mahathir isn’t Mandela, but the principle is the same.

Now Dr M did a lot of things that I have a problem with, one of which being the complete emasculation of toadies I mean politicians to the point that we have the very same problem that I referred to earlier. That is the price to pay for leading a third-world country filled with peasants. Singapore has the same problem although by and large they lack the courage or plain recklessness to admit it.

There was also the business with the University and University Colleges Act and the judiciary, which, under his watch, turned into a pack of criminally negligent complaisant fools who make a virtue of betraying their oaths to the Constitution. They might hold me in contempt of court, but I hold the Courts in contempt of the People. And it is very easy to appeal to “the People” isn’t it? Everyone does it, and everyone inevitably falls for it. This is what happens when we have things like the University and University Colleges Act, but the People, such as they are, are too damned silly to protest.

Dr M governed by a mixture of abject fear and blind devotion that makes for a good study of classical Machiavellian political practice in an era of developmental economics. I just made up that last bit because it sounds somewhat intellectual. Politicians do this also, and people fall for it for the same reason. “I stand for civil society!” or transparency and accountability in administrative processes or whatever when really it’s merely ABU (Anything But UMNO).

People rally behind banners because they desperately want something to believe in, and they want to believe in leaders who are fundamentally “good” according to some definition that is as hazy as “the People” itself.

What these fools don’t realise is that this kind of unthinking activism in the cause of a “democracy” they don’t understand, or a ” civil society”, whatever the hell that is supposed to be, works according to exactly the same dynamic by which an individual or group achieves totalitarian control. By rallying to a cause, they devote themselves equally blindly to Anwar Ibrahim, the DAP or PAS or Perkasa in the same way that they once rushed to prostrate themselves before Dr Mahathir’s feet. And by and large our politicians are cunning enough to know this, or at least they understand how to use the dynamic to their temporary advantage. And the advantage is always temporary because the other side (or rivals on your own side) will eventually find some new toy to play with.

But none of them has the strength and conviction to provide national leadership. To do so in this country you’d have to be Hitler, or Mahathir. Even Mandela would not succeed. Our politicians  play to the mob’s tune, and so someone like Zaid Ibrahim will go from Messianic hero to abject party-hopping villain (which he might really be) in the blink of an eye, while his lot decry their once-Beloved Leader Anwar as a snake in the grass (which he might really be) just as quickly. That’s all fine by me—it’s political business as usual—but what I fail to understand is the People’s capacity to be perpetually bamboozled by the same thing over and over and over again.

Silly buggers.

So much for the New Malaysia. Meanwhile the Old Malaysia is falling apart.

The People seem actually to want a fascist dictatorship because they want nothing more than to trust in a leader who will do their thinking for them. Sometimes I think this is unavoidable. The internet allows the common citizen to voice his or her concerns in public fora, but far too many common citizens are thugs. The internet in Malaysian political life has done little more than to make shoddy thinking ubiquitous.

This might all change with time and education, but if the history of political education teaches anything, it’s that it usually changes only with blood.

Siapa berhak?

Amat mendukacitakan apabila terbaca dalam suratkhabar pendapat seperti rencana yang disiarkan dalam Sinar Harian hari ini (Khamis 3hb Jun) bertajuk, Umat Islam, bangkitlah bersatu!

Tentang perpaduan umat Islam saya tidak akan mempersoalkan sebarang perkara. Begitu juga dengan pendapat penulis rencana tersebut, bahawa “negara-negara Islam tentu sedar, hanya dengan retorik, mengecam dan mengutuk tanpa mengambil apa-apa tindakan berkesan, adalah serupa seperti berdiam diri, sambil duduk dan menyaksikan kehancuran bangsa Palestin dan Lebanon [iaitu, Lubnan] di tangan durjana itu.”

Ia, apa yang dilakukan kepada para aktivis keamanan di atas kapal Mavi Marmara, saya menganggap sebagai perbuatan jahat dan keji. Lebih malang adalah pengepungan Jalur Gaza oleh tentera negara Israel dan bencana perikemanusiaan yang diakibatkan oleh pengepungan tersebut.

Saya ingin mengemukakan soalan kepada kerajaan Mesir, yang  telah menghalang pengangkutan darat ke dalam Jalur Gaza (termasuk juga konvoi Viva Palestina yang dinaiki saudaraku), dan yang membina sebuah dinding besi raksaksa di sempadan Mesir-Gaza.

Sebab itulah pertama-tamanya Flotilla Gaza berlayar. Sebab itulah sebahagian daripada para aktivis-aktivis terhilang nyawa apabila diserang dan dibunuh tentera Israel. Sebab itulah dikatakan, “darahmu sampai ke pantaiku sebelum bantuanmu.” (Yang ini saya baca di Twitter…  sudah lupa siapa yang menulisnya. Maaf.)

Ia. Zalim, kejam, jahat dan celaka. Tetapi apakah itu elok, jikalau kezaliman orang lain menimbulkan alasan kepada diri sendiri untuk menjajakan kebencian semata-mata? Kata penulis:

Mungkin pemimpin Nazi Jerman, Adolf Hitler bukanlah orang layak disanjungi kerana keganasannya, namun tiada siapa dapat menafikan kebenaran katanya, bahawa bangsa Yahudi menjadi parasit kepada orang sekeliling. Mereka datang ke sesuatu tempat itu, sedangkan mereka hidup senang-senang.

Adolf Hitler “mungkin” tidak layak disanjungi? Keranakeganasannya”? Ada siapa yang ingin mengira penghapusan nyawa sejumlah 6,000,000 hanya “keganasan”, dan bukan sebagai “dahsyat” atau jauh tidak boleh diterima oleh sesiapa muhsin, lurus, dan jujur? Oleh sesiapa  yang ingin digelar “manusia”? Ada atau tidak?

Dan tiada yang sanggup menafikan bahawa bangsa Yahudi merupakan “parasit”? Oh, saya menafikan. Dan mereka juga:

Orang ini orang apa ya?

Gambar ini dicuri daripada laman ini. Sila klik ya, ada lagi gambar-gambar yang menarik dan yang mengejutkan. Tetapi yang dibangkitkan dalam hati saya adalah hanya kemarahan dan kecewaan; oh, tetapi tidak perlu bangkit apa-apapun, mengikut penulis rencana Sinar.

Amat menghairankan apabila Israel melakukan sesuatu yang dahsyat, dunia mengalih pandangan ke AS dan kuasa besar lain, mengharapkan mereka mengutuk serangan Israel. Tiada apa yang patut diharapkan mereka. Orang Islam sahaja dapat menyelamatkan nyawa saudara Islam mereka di Palestin.

Bagaimana dengan rakyat Palestin yang beragama lain? Apakah mereka tidak layak diselamatkan?

Apakah saya, yang tidak beragama Islam, tidak berhak menyelamatkan sesiapa pun? Kalau begitu bagaimana dengan para aktivis Flotilla Gaza yang turut  beragama bukan Islam, atau langsung tidak beragama?

Bagaimana dengan rakyat Israel-Yahudi yang tetap mengutuk kezaliman kerajaan dan tentera mereka sendiri terhadap rakyat (saya enggan menggunakan perkataan “bangsa”) Palestin? Bagaimana dengan Gideon Levy, seorang penulis beragama Yahudi yang berkerja sebagai kolumnis suratkhabar Haaretz?

Sila baca pendapat beliau dan lain-lain penganalisas beragama Yahudi and bukan Yahudi, Islam dan bukan Islam, di seluruh dunia, sebelum membuat sebarang keputusan bahawa nyawa Islam hanya dapat diselamatkan oleh orang Islam sahaja.

Ini fikiran sempit yang tidak akan mencapai apa-apa kecuali kebencian yang sama tahap dengan kekejaman kerajaan dan tentera negara Israel dan mereka yang sepakat dengannya.

Pease porridge cold

1Malaysia's high-income juju. Fat lot of good it will do us. (Pix courtesy of Niamah.)

The problem with a comparative advantage is that it is comparative. You have the advantage only as long as someone else doesn’t. Our advantage in Malaysia was for a very long time the ability to keep production costs low through the voodoo of interventionist policy and wage repression.

This particular edge involved mass-producing industrial stuff for export at relatively lower prices than anywhere else; but we were supplanted in the wake of the ’97-’98 crisis with the rise of other low-cost manufacturing exporters like Vietnam and now (increasingly) Indonesia. Economists consequently talk about the middle-income trap from which we can emerge only by way of evolution into a high-income economy.

The Government thinks that it can pull this magical rabbit out of its own arse by fiat, but apparently it can’t agree with itself on whether we are on the threshold of greatness or verging on bankruptcy. It wishes to increase its income through subsidy reduction as well as a new tax, the GST; but at the same time it cannot account adequately for its expenditure or the administration of public funds. Idris Jala would pauperise half the country to what end? To pay Idris Jala’s salary?

We have no business formulating policies for a fictitious high-income economy if we cannot even agree on Syed Shahrir’s request for a minimum wage (pdf). And all he’s asking for is RM900 plus RM300 COLA  . Does the Government mean to tell me that it intends to keep wages ruinously low while taxing those same workers and removing whatever relief they have through subsidised goods and services (such as healthcare and education)?

Does it therefore intend to achieve its high income rubbish for only some Malaysians via the enslavement of others?

And on what does the Government propose to spend our money? I’m not merely talking about aeroplanes without engines, unsinkable submarines, or double-page-spread full colour advertisements in the New York Times. I am talking about the Government’s own abject administrative foolishness on a daily basis.

For example, the Health Ministry would like you to believe that it is serving the public good through its 1Malaysia clinics that effectively deprive low-wage earners of adequate primary healthcare. It prefers to justify its budget through the deeply questionable practice of having medical assistants do the work of GPs while the Ministry’s primary responsibility for district and general hospitals remains unattended. Is this what Malaysians pay taxes for?

High income economies have high per capita incomes because public services like healthcare, education, transport, and social security remain the chief responsibilities of government. People pay higher taxes because they don’t have to pay additional fees for some or all of these services.

On the other hand the Malaysian Government and Idris Jala’s band of clever people seem not to have spent a minute of their precious time studying the social impact of their policies. If they believe the mass of Malaysians earn, as they do, RM20,000+ monthly salaries and live in the wealthy suburbs of Kuala Lumpur then I suggest that they should spend less time in their plush air-conditioned publicly funded offices and more on the street where people are dying because no one gives a shit.

“Friends and family”? My arse.

My friend Laych, with whom I worked at the New Straits Times has just posted a story on The Nut Graph, where she now works, detailing an investigation into who placed that ridiculous “congratulatory” message in the NYT, thus dragging that venerable publication to the level of the, well, NST. (NYT’s own fault for accepting the ad and the money, in my view.)

I strongly recommend that article, and I also strongly recommend The Nut Graph as one of the few agencies that actively tries to be fully independent and non-partisan in its editorial objectives and reporting (edit: or at least they seem to try). Please support it if you can.

Yes, I know Rosmah Mansor is fugly but if you feel compelled to comment on this issue either on Laych’s story or this post, I ask that you avoid the argumentum ad hominem, i.e. Rosmah is fat. Rosmah is ugly. Etc. That kind of thing is acceptable if you’re three years old; and I hope you’re not three years old because the internet, like public roads, is a dangerous place for unsupervised young people.

If you like I can post a crash course in recognising syllogistic fallacies like the ad hominem thinggie. It’s fun and profitable. I shall see if I can find my College books on it.

Shoot the people

Saw this on the lamp-post outside my flat.

Another chap, Public Works labourer S. Surentiran, 21, has been shot by the police, inadvertently this time on account a stray bullet intended for someone else who had apparently run amok (thanks to my sibling, Patrick, NurKL and others for the alert). The damage to the credibility of the police, however, is the same regardless of who was the intended target.

It is very unfortunate that, on the same day that Surenthiran’s shooting was reported, The Star chose to run a letter urging “parents [to] be more proactive and support the police to restore law and order [what? by shooting people?], and that “the people in general should support the police to go after these felonious characters [i.e. Mat Rempit, or illegal motorcycle racers] in our society.”

Wtf is a felonious character exactly? A “suspicious person” or someone proven by the legal system to be guilty of a crime? I know the judiciary has problems, but the complete absence of public legal consciousness is disturbing because it is a direct argument in favour of a police state (or witch-hunting Salem, if you prefer)  in which mere suspicion of a crime is exactly the same as guilt.

The letter was written in reference to the shooting of Mohd Azizi Aziz, a suspected Rempit, and has received immediate support with the publication of another letter today urging authorities “to take action against irresponsible parents”. It also implies that citizens should not initiate legal action against the police to remedy alleged wrongs on the part of law enforcement. “It is not their intention to shoot anyone, let alone kill,” says the writer, “because killing people has its emotional and mental effect.”

The intention to shoot, or kill, is precisely what needs to be determined by the court in cases of dispute. Killing people also has a legal effect, in cases where it is wrong. The corollary is simple: if you can think of the cases where it is legally permissible to open fire, with or without the intention to kill, then you would by that fact alone have a list of exclusions where shooting someone is wrong.

And what is legal permission? It’s afforded only defensively in cases where use of firearms is an unavoidable measure to protect life:

Law enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.

I did not just make that up. You can read all about it here, if you want. I do wonder why The Star as well as other media agencies (and online ones also) do not put forward arguments grounded in established law enforcement procedures as a counterweight against the rising tendency of public opinion (in the pages of these publications, anyway) towards irrationality and the outright rejection of the rule of law.

I can only guess that they do this to support the beleaguered police. No one’s saying we should disband the force, as some people suggest we’re trying to do. What we are trying to do is provide clear procedures of accountability in law enforcement—the same as those recommended by the UNHCHR and adopted as standards in the same advanced industrial countries we’re trying so hard to emulate.

Is this so difficult to understand and (if so inclined) argue against?

In other news, Dr Teoh Hsien Jin says his statement to The Star that appeared last Thursday was “taken out of context”. Perhaps it was, but he contextualised the matter quite well at the time which made it easy for people to attack his views. He did make a point of saying that his views did not represent his employer, Sunway University College. That’s good, and is something the reporter should have been careful to do in the first place.

The Home Minister is an idiot

The Home Minister. Another attention-seeking picture, but it is not a very good likeness. Sorry.

Another youth, this time 17 years old, has been shot by the police in unclear circumstances. Mohamad Azizi Aziz, a night-market trader, is alleged to have been a Mat Rempit (illegal motorcycle racer). He was shot in the stomach after fleeing from a police patrol car, riding in a zig-zag manner, and refusing top stop when directed. This took place early yesterday morning (3.30am, Friday 7 May).

This time, however, the officer in question (a constable) was suspended immediately for violating the Inspector-General’s standing orders, presumably concerning the discharge of firearms (I say “presumably” because the Inspector-General has so far shown no inclination to let the rest of us into the secret of what his standing orders are).

Negri Sembilan police chief SAC (1) Osman Salleh described the shooting as “an abuse of power”, given the absence of an immediate threat posed by Mohd Azizi, and has apologised to Mohd Azizi’s family. Berita Harian adds that, according to Osman, Mohd Azizi may have been hit by a warning shot. (I have BH delivered, in case you were wondering.)

Aziz Omar, Mohd Azizi’s father, has filed a report and initiated what I imagine to be a claim for damages. On the face of it, I think SAC Osman did the right thing to suspend the constable pending an inquiry, and I find his readiness to admit fault admirable in a profession that is led by someone seemingly determined to avoid having to answer to anyone for anything, even when Fault has put two of its fingers up his nostrils.

I do not doubt, however, that the Solicitor-General will have a few questions for SAC Osman about throwing away the Government’s case before it even begins, but I think he should be commended for his honesty and professionalism in handling this case.

From the public’s point of view, does this case differ in principle from that of Aminulrasyid Amzah? I don’t think so, and I think it should be obvious that it doesn’t: The question is not what parents are doing (or not doing) with their children. It’s not what young people do at night in vehicles. It’s not what they intend to do, criminal or otherwise.

The only question we have to consider is whether or not the use of a firearm by the police was justified in either circumstance. SAC Osman understands this. I wonder why so many other Malaysians seem to have trouble grasping the concept.

I understand that a lot of people are (and, I believe, rightly) concerned by the problem of rising crime in our society, and this applies both to urban and rural communities. I have read and heard a number of opinions, as a result of these latest incidents, praising police action in “shooting first” and asking questions later, if at all. The legal process, some declare, is waste of time and public money. Crime is urgent, and needs to be addressed immediately and with overwhelming force.

People are afraid, and it is out fear that they condone actions they would otherwise deplore in more peaceful times. In such circumstances people will jettison the rule of law that enables society to function in the first place. Out of desperation the majority will exercise its democratic right to subject itself to tyranny. It has happened before, and it will happen again.

But street crime, says the Home Minister, is mostly the result of the wagging tongues of women:

[The] Umno vice-president admitted that with regards to street crime, he would only give the police a six.

However, he said that the level of street crimes was exaggerated by the continuous chattering that made it seem worse.

“Most victims are women. What do women do? They go to the hairdressers… they chit-chat and suddenly it is everywhere and cause people to fear,” he joked.

If this is a joke then it is the kind told by the village idiot. Opposition party leaders (i.e. Kit Siang, Izzah and my own MP Teresa) as well as Ivy from the WAO have demanded an apology.

I am disappointed that, even now (8.45pm, Sunday 9 May) no statement has been issued by the Minister for Women, Family and Community Development. Or perhaps it has been issued but no agency has carried it. Or perhaps the Chief Whip as invoked party unity (this happens quite frequently, in case you’re not Malaysian and are wondering what I’m talking about). In any case the most recent story to issue with Women’s Minister Shahrizat Jalil’s name in it is a fatuous remark about the benefits of living in longhouses.

But what is wrong with the Home Minister’s little joke? Firstly it makes light of street crime and crime in general. If it’s merely exaggeration, then I must insist that he provide some kind of proof so we have something to tell this young woman, or the family of this lady, or this young woman’s mother, or any of the various victims of street crime reported here.

Secondly, his little joke, even as a joke, assumes that women habitually overstate concerns about their safety, and that, as a result, these concerns should not be taken seriously. More particularly it trivialises violence against women and betrays a fundamental tendency towards discrimination against women as weak, petty, gossipping spreaders of false news.

The Home Minister’s statement is a reckless demonstration of ineptitude and smacks of a fundamental insecurity, and I wonder why Shahrizat Jalil has allowed the opposition, yet again, to steal the march on her own ground.

Juvenile crime

A new picture. Got one of those tablet things, but am still learning how to use it.

I thank The Star for publishing my letter (the subject of the previous post) yesterday, but I am appalled by a clinical psychologist’s opinion that Aminulrasyid Amzah is to blame for having had himself shot and killed by the police.

I wonder at any society that holds a minor culpable for his own death at the hands of the police and yet insists on the calling itself a “society”. The argument that Aminulrasyid is at fault for his own death is logically identical to the argument that babies, discarded by their mothers, are to blame for having been born; or that abused children are responsible for putting themselves in positions where they can be tortured.

The responsibility for a minor’s welfare does not lie solely within the province of an individual parent—all adults have a moral duty, in a civilised society, to care for all young people who are, or might be put, in harm’s way. This is why children are “minors” and do not have adult rights.

To say then that “it is not my business”, when we hear the screams of an abused child next door, is to aid and abet  a crime. Likewise, to witness a child do wrong and yet do nothing is a fundamental denial that we have any moral obligation towards children in society: and likewise it denies that they have any right to social protection.

Unlike the rest of us the police are charged by society with the active  fulfilment of this duty. People volunteer to be policemen and women. They are not conscripted. The law exists to protect, and as its enforcers, the main task of the police is precisely that. Protect. I often hear the argument that those seeking greater accountability of the police are malicious spirits trying to spread chaos in society: by questioning police actions, we damage their morale and cause them to hesitate in shooting criminals. How many times do we have to go round this circle? Suspects are not criminals until proven so in court, and shooting them dead deprives them of the right to be heard.

The whole point of criminal law is to determine culpability. The police are empowered only to apprehend suspects of a crime, not to determine guilt, which is the business of the legal system. With that in mind, the statement made by Dr Teoh Hsien Jin yesterday not only flies in the face reason, it actively promotes exactly the same kind of shoddy thinking that gets us into moral difficulty in the first place:

KUALA LUMPUR: It is clear that 14-year-old Aminulrasyid Amzah was at fault in his shooting, leading him to being accidentally shot by police who were only discharging their duties, a clinical psychologist said. [“It is clear“? Is it the duty of a policeman to shoot suspects dead without reference to the law?]

Assoc Prof Dr Teoh Hsien Jin said the situation was getting out of proportion and that the public had overlooked the most important issue, which was that of a minor driving a car without a driving licence. [The most important issue is the use of disproportionate force, in this case lethal force, in the apprehension of a suspect. Does Dr Teoh mean to say that driving a car without a licence is a dangerous crime, on par with armed robbery, necessitating the discharge of a weapon?]

He said that as far as the law was concerned, such an act was an offence. [Yes, it is an offence. But if Dr Teoh seeks to argue law, then he should ask himself what the penalty is for driving without a licence, determine the appropriate use of force in its enforcement, and compare that to what happened to Aminulrasyid. Also, does Dr Teoh condone the shooting of ANYONE who drives without a licence and panics when confronted by armed policemen?]

“The crime rate in Selangor is worrying and the police have taken the necessary steps to reduce crime in the state by putting more men on patrol to react to any perceived threat. [Aminulrasyid was not a criminal. He was at best a suspect in a traffic violation. The police do not have the ability to determine guilt.]

“A lot of violent crime takes place after midnight and a speeding car pursued by a group of motorcyclists fits the scenario perfectly,” said Dr Teoh who is the Head of the School of Natural Health and Sciences in Sunway University College. [Fits what scenario, exactly? This is purely conjectural, and I can conjecture the opposite thing: that the motorcyclists are Mat Rempits intending to assault and kill the driver. I should then advise the police to shoot all motorcyclists appearing to pursue a car, whether or not they are actually doing so. In fact, they should just shoot all motorists as they’re all potential criminals.]

Dr Teoh, a former journalist, said the usual procedure for policemen in a patrol car or at roadblocks would be to pull a suspicious car over and shine a torchlight into it. [Yes, but what constitutes a “suspicious car”? I have been stopped in this fashion a number of times, but on what grounds? I am unable to tell what “suspicious behaviour” is, as (un)defined by Dr Teoh and the police; so if I am shot as a result, am I to blame?”]

“But the policemen may not have had the chance to do that in Aminulrasyid’s case as the minor sped off, which led to the police firing at the speeding car.

“Police on shifts are normally armed with automatic firearms because they do not know who or what they will be up against. You just have to react to dangerous situations. [Is a fleeing car “a dangerous situation”? Does Dr Teoh mean to say that it is right to open fire on anyone reacting negatively to a bunch of armed men trying to detain a vehicle in the middle of the night?]

“When they opened fire, it is likely that one stray bullet could have hit him. In the dark, they were probably shooting to stop the car,” said Dr Teoh, who was also a Territorial Army officer. [This is again pure conjecture and is akin to pulling a rabbit out of one’s arse. Unfortunately the principal witness in this case can’t testify because he is dead. It is likely. They were probably shooting to stop the car. Do any of these conditional statements demonstrate with clarity that Aminulrasyid is at fault? Or does the fact that I say “an apple might be blue” equal proof that there is at least one blue apple in the world?]

He said he sympathised with the Inspector-General of Police who had come under fire from various quarters for threatening to pull his men off the streets following a public outcry over the incident. [The Inspector-General was behaving like an adolescent throwing a tantrum. Yes, he was “under fire” but not by any means enough. Perhaps we should shoot him in the head.]

“They are already overworked and underpaid and politicising the matter does not help. It is only making them more frustrated and angry,” he said. [Overworked? Maybe. Underpaid? Maybe. What happened then to the RM12.4 billion we gave them? Politicising this matter has so far been the ONLY way to draw sufficient attention to it.]

The inescapable conclusion of Dr Teoh’s argument is that as Aminulrasyid had broken the law by driving without a licence (as he was underaged), he was therefore solely to be blamed for having been shot. Guilt therefore lies with the victim; and if this is to be a general rule, it is therefore also true that ANY child in any circumstance must be blamed for suffering the same fate.

I draw your attention again to the fact that minors are held by the law not to be responsible for their actions because they are deemed to lack sufficient understanding of the consequences of their actions. (There is some controversy surrounding the age of criminal responsibility, based on the presumption of doli incapax (incapable of crime). In the UK this is defined as age 10 and below, 14 in Australia (and no charge at all can be brought against a suspect aged 10 and under); and trial in an adult court generally takes place at 18 and above. Malaysia’s case is another story, for another day.)

Dr Teoh’s argument however negates the intention of minority protection. Actually it negates the very basis of criminal law as a whole if we can justify using lethal force on unarmed or otherwise non-threatening suspects, regardless of how old they are.

For all I know Dr Teoh might be a first-rate clinical psychologist, but if I were to subject him to the same set of assumptions he has subjected Aminulrasyid, then I should very easily conclude that he would have us believe that wayward children are criminals deserving rough justice in the middle of the night—that Aminulrasyid’s principal crime was to have been a child.

And that would be a terrible advertisement for Sunway University College where he works.

But I do not make the same formal assumptions. I offer Dr Teoh something he appears unwilling to offer others; and that is the benefit of an open mind.