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Judicial CP - June 1996


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 15 June 1996

Salesman jailed for cheating bank

KUALA LUMPUR: A computer salesman was sentenced to a year's jail and three strokes of the rotan by a Sessions Court yesterday for forging a cheque and cheating a bank teller of RM127,596.

Khairil Johari Mustaffa, 41, pleaded guilty to inducing a bank teller, Wan Mohamed Zamri Wan Zakaria, into believing that a cheque issued by Syarikat Sri Changgong (K.L) Sdn Bhd to Syarikat Permata Besar Sdn Bhd for a purported sum of RM127,596 was genuine.

He committed the offence at the Medan Mara Bank Islam branch in Jalan Raja Laut between May 1 and 15, this year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Dzulkifli Ahmad told the court that Syarikat Sri Changgong lodged a police report on May 16 after realising a cheque with the said amount from the company had been debited into Syarikat Permata Besar's account.

Judge Zura Yahya sentenced Khairil to one-year jail and three strokes of the rotan for the first offence of cheating and another year in jail for the second offence of forging the cheque. Both sentences are to run concurrently from the date of arrest.


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 18 June 1996

Inmates who run away to be caned

KUALA LUMPUR: Inmates who run away from drug rehabilitation centres more than twice will be whipped.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayob said the mandatory caning would be included in the proposed amendments to the Drugs Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act.

He said this deterrent was being proposed as imprisonment had been ineffective.

Another amendment would be on determining the period of rehabilitation for inmates which now averaged two years.

"If an inmate has only been an addict for six months, are we going to detain him for two years?

"What about hardcore ones who had been addicts for 10 years. Is two years enough? This is what we are reviewing," he told reporters after opening the first meeting between the National Drugs Council, state drug agencies directors and commandants of rehabilitation centres in the country.

Megat Junid said the amendments were necessary as the present Act was ineffective, especially in the rehabilitation of addicts.

"After 12 years in conducting rehabilitation programmes, it will be better to be under one umbrella to integrate all action, including rehabilitation and issuing orders.

"This meeting will seek ways to put the house in order as the council discovered many discrepancies in carrying out regulations and financial mismanagement.

"Among the review will be the powers of the visitors board which determines the rehabilitation and toxification periods. It needs to be streamlined," he added.

Megat Junid admitted that smuggling of drugs to inmates at the centres was still a problem and warned of stern action against those involved.

At the opening of the meeting earlier, Megat Junid said the success rate of rehabilitation would increase to 50 per cent if the centres were run more professionally.

On congestion at the centres, he urged the authorities to inform the Government as efforts were being taken to create a more comfortable atmosphere for inmates.


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 19 June 1996

Several NGOs against caning of runaway inmates

By Thomas Soon in Kuala Lumpur

Several non-governmental organisations have objected to the Home Ministry's proposal to impose mandatory caning on inmates who run away from drug rehabilitation centres more than twice.

However, the Help Centre Foundation (HCF), which runs the Therapeutic Community Village, has come out in support of the proposal.

The NGOs called on the ministry to look at the cause of the problem instead of imposing further punishment or extending the rehabilitation period.

Iklas director Karen Radzi said the ministry must investigate why the rehabilitation programme had failed.

"Caning and extending the period of rehabilitation for hardcore addicts will not solve the problem," she said.

Suaram co-ordinator Cynthia Gabriel said mandatory caning was cruel and would not be an effective rehabilitative measure.

She said the problem of inmates running away must be dealt with by a thorough investigation on the causes and reasons for the breakouts.

Malaysian Care assistant director for drug rehabilitation and prison services Pax Tan said: "The main priority now is to work out an effective programme to help those addicts who want to be helped."

Psychiatrist Asso Prof Dr Habib Khan, who has 20 years' experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependants in Myanmar, said: "Addicts have to be medically treated but if they misbehave, there is no reason why they should not be punished and if they are good, they should be rewarded."


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 22 June 1996

Dad gets jail, rotan for child abuse

By Elan Perumal

SHAH ALAM: A Sessions Court sentenced a lorry attendant yesterday to seven years' jail and six strokes of the rotan for beating his 27-month-old daughter into a coma.

In passing judgement, Judge Datuk Abu Bakar said the accused V. Arjunan, 31, had "acted worse than an animal."

"Even animals show love and protect their kind but you have done this to your own daughter," he said.

Arjunan and his wife S. Vyrakanni, 24, were charged with hitting their daughter with a belt, cane, broom, and a mop stick on April 27 at a squatter house here. Vyrakanni has claimed trial.

Arjunan, who pleaded guilty, said in mitigation that he had hit his daughter out of anger and not with the intent of causing injury.

The beating resulted in his daughter slipping into a coma, put on life-support system for 11 days and may be blinded for life.

Arjunan pleaded for a lighter sentence, saying he was the sole breadwinner of the family of five children.

"I regret the act," he said and burst into tears.

However, deputy public prosecutor Wan Ahmad Kamal Wan Abdul Mohd urged the court to give Arjunan a deterrent sentence of 10 to 12 years' jail with four strokes of the rotan as a warning to other child abusers.

"The court must consider that the victim almost went blind due to the beatings, especially on her head, and it is fortunate that she is still alive," he said.

The toddler had wounds all over her body, fractured arms, and a burnt mark on her forehead, he said.

"The accused used belt, mop stick, broom, and cigarette to torture the infant," he added.

Arjunan had earlier denied using any of the objects to hit his daughter.

Before giving the judgement, Abu Bakar repeatedly asked Arjunan what the child had done to provoke him.

Arjunan was unable to give a proper answer but just said he was disturbed by the child's mischievous behaviour.

The judge fixed June 28 to hear Vyrakanni's case.


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 24 June 1996

Caning for staff who push drugs

By Mergawati Zulfakar

KUALA LUMPUR: Staff of drug rehabilitation centres guilty of supplying drugs to inmates may be caned under proposed amendments to drug rehabilitation laws.

The move is part of an overall exercise aimed at beefing up the rehabilitation system to deal with the high number of relapse cases among ex-addicts.

Director-General of the newly formed National Narcotics Agency Datuk Yaakob Md Amin said his agency was considering a proposal to cane staff "who conspire to sell drugs to inmates."

"We are looking at this as a preventive measure," he said, adding that it would reflect the Government's determination to ensure the rehabilitation process met its objective.

He said relapse cases among former addicts stood at 60 per cent and noted that 16,000 addicts were treated at the 28 centres any one time.

Yaakob said the proposal may be included under the Drugs Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983 instead of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

"No decision has been made yet to determine which Act should govern the proposed clauses on caning," he said, adding that the matter was still being discussed.

He said the agency hoped to table the amendments during the next Parliament sitting.

The Drug Dependants (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act deals with the rehabilitation programme itself besides other after-care and skills training facilities extended to them.

To a question, Yaakob said so far there had only been cases of tobacco or cigarette smuggling at drug centres.

Unlike in prisons were there were cases of drug pushing, he noted that there were no such arrests as far as the rehabilitation centres were concerned.

Other proposed amendments being considered under the Act include caning inmates who escaped from rehabilitation centres and fixing rehabilitation period.

Yaakob also said the number of inmates who escaped had been increasing.

"Two years ago, 3,153 inmates escaped and the number increased to 3,411 in 1995.

"Between January and March this year, 1,096 inmates had escaped," he said.

On the proposed caning for escapees, Yaakob said it would be different from the sentence imposed against criminals.

"We are talking about light caning for drug addicts apart from the present maximum three years jail sentence for escaping," he added.

Straits Times, Singapore, 27 June 1996

Drug-trafficking NZ mother, son pardoned

KUALA LUMPUR -- A New Zealand mother and her son would be freed from a Malaysian jail on Saturday, pardoned after serving 11 years for heroin trafficking -- and book and film offers were already awaiting them, said their lawyer.

Lorraine Cohen, 53, a self-confessed former prostitute and heroin addict, and her son, Aaron, 30, will be released from a jail in Penang.

"Book and film rights are being discussed with Australian and New Zealand media," their lawyer Karpal Singh said.

The two were arrested at Penang's international airport on Feb 9, 1985.

Lorraine was sentenced to death by the High Court on Sept 1, 1987 for trafficking in 140 g of heroin and Aaron was given a life sentence and six strokes of the cane for having 34 g of the drug.

Malaysian law imposes the death sentence on anyone caught with 15 g of heroin, 200 g of cannabis or one kg of opium. Anyone caught with those amounts of the drugs is deemed to be trafficking in them.

In August 1989, the Supreme Court commuted her sentence to life imprisonment after amending the charge to one of possession.

The two would have been eligible for parole in 1998 after serving the usual 20-year term for life sentences, with seven years off for good behaviour, their lawyer said.

But a special appeal for clemency was made on behalf of Lorraine, who was diagnosed as having breast cancer and had undergone a mastectomy in 1994, he added.

She had testified during her trial that she had been a hard-core drug addict from the age of 15, when she moved to Australia and began a life of prostitution.

She described in court her pathological family -- a husband who beat her regularly and a drug habit which grew monstrously and which she eventually introduced to her son.

She said that she fled to Penang in order to escape her husband and because drugs were cheaper there than in Australia. -- Reuter.


Sunday Star, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 30 June 1996

Uncertain future for Cohens

By Ang Su Ching, K. Kasturi Dewi and Priscilla Dielenberg

PENANG: New Zealand housewife Lorraine Phyllis Cohen and her son Aaron Shelton Cohen, who were released yesterday from life imprisonment after a pardon for drug offences, are worried about their future.

"For the past month, I have not been sleeping properly, I kept thinking about the release and what I am going to do," said Aaron, 30 who was born a drug addict and kicked the habit in the Penang prison nine years ago.

"I do not have a clue as to our plans," he said at the Penang International Airport yesterday.

Lorraine, 53, who has sold her story to an Australian magazine for an undisclosed sum, said she was happy to be released after 11 years in jail, saying "it was a nightmare, but now we are free and going home."

She was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago and has had her left breast removed. Doctors say she is in good health.

The Penang Pardons Board did not give reasons for their release but their counsel Karpal Singh said he had appealed on medical grounds.

Her son was also released because she said he could not cope without her. The two would have been eligible for parole in 1998.

Their release came exactly three months after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad visited New Zealand where his counterpart James Bolger was reported to have appealed for their release.

The two were held at the Penang International Airport in 1985. Lorraine was sentenced to hang for drug trafficking but her sentence was commuted to life in 1989. Her son was given life imprisonment and six strokes of the rotan.

Lorraine and Aaron boarded a plane to Kuala Lumpur at 11.30am before leaving on a 9.30pm flight for Auckland.

blob Previous: 19 December 1991 - Cohen given whipping

blob Follow-up: 1 July 1996 - Magazine's $20,000 offer to Cohens obscene -- MP

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