23 June 2024

Chastisement as a form of deterrent


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By Dr Haezreena Begum Abdul Hamid

Anyone who transgresses will be chastised and put to shame. This decision is clearly reflected in the orders of the Johor Religious Department who directed that the Ulu Tiram attacker be buried in isolation. This decree also serves as a deterrence to public against committing similar attacks and a warning that a person will be chastised and shamed for committing similar acts.

Chastisement conveys the idea of punishment, and in this case, a form of warning and rebuke while deterrence serves to discourage others from committing similar acts. Shame is central to alienation, isolation, and embarrassment. And in this case, what may be perceived as an act of vengeance or heroism by the attacker has been reduced to a cowardice and shameful act.

On the contrary those who are massacred in their course of duty are given an elevated rank and respected as martyrs. This was declared by the Johor Religious Department which helps to ease and console the feelings and emotions of the victims and family members, the police force, and the nation as a whole.

While the slain and shooting of the police personnels have been collectively concluded as a vicious and senseless act by all quarters, the deliberate claims of linking the attack to JI or terrorism by some quarters have to stop as it creates uneasiness and panic among the society. It is also counterproductive and gives credit to JI to gain popularity and notoriety. The case is still ongoing and we need to allow the police to conduct their investigations.

As of now, there has not been sufficient evidence presented in the media linking the act to terrorism, therefore, we need to be cautious about any predictions or presumptions made. Any comments on the legal aspect of this incident should only come from the AG’s office, the police, or legally qualified personnels.

The least we can do now is to give the victims and the family members some space, privacy, and respect. The Johoreans have shown strength and resilience in countering this incident and we, as a nation should stand in solidarity and allow the case to take its course.

The author is a criminologist and Deputy Dean (Postgraduate Degree) at the Faculty of Law, Universiti Malaya. She may be reached at haezreena@um.edu.my