Abuse of Domestic Workers is Unacceptable and Must be Punished Accordingly
The Malaysian Bar supports the Attorney General’s decision to file a notice of appeal against the manifestly inadequate sentence imposed on Datin Rozita Mohamad Ali, who was let off with merely a good behaviour bond for five years with one surety of RM20,000 by the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court on 15 March 2018. She had pled guilty to a charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means, under Section 326 of the Penal Code.
Datin Rozita Mohamad Ali had used a kitchen knife, a clothes hanger, a steel mop and an umbrella to cause multiple injuries to migrant domestic worker Suyanti Sutrinso’s head, hands, legs and internal organs.
The blatantly light sentence meted upon the accused is shocking and inappropriate, especially in light of the extreme and appalling nature of the injuries inflicted upon Suyanti Sutrinso.
The light sentence has drawn significant negative publicity within and outside Malaysia, particularly in the Indonesian press. It has also lent to the public perception — evidenced by the 48,000 persons who have signed the online public petition to date, calling for “equal justice for the rich and poor” — that the accused received preferential treatment due to her perceived financial and social status. Such perception does not augur well for the administration of justice in our country.
As Lord Denning said in Metropolitan Properties Co (FGC) Ltd v Lannon  1 QB 577: “Justice must be rooted in confidence: and confidence is destroyed when right-minded people go away thinking: ‘The judge is biased.’”
The courts ought to impose a more appropriate sentence in accordance with the law, commensurate with the grievous nature of the crime that was committed. A deterrent sentence is warranted in this case, to convey clearly the strong message that all persons are equal before the law; and that the abuse of any person in Malaysia — and migrant workers are no exception — is not condoned by the State, and offenders will be subject to severe punishment.
22 March 2018