Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Imam's Magical Shoes (revisited & updated)

Lawyers urge review of jail term for shoe-throwing imam
By Shannon TeohThe Malaysian Insider | March 08, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, March — Lawyers stunned by the Federal Court’s one-year jail sentence for contempt of court against an imam who threw his shoes at three senior judges have called for a review of the “excessive” punishment. 
The court decided this morning that Hoslan Hussin’s “act of contempt was very serious” and “if no action is taken, can threaten the powers of the court” before meting out the jail term that several lawyers told The Malaysian Insider was unprecedented for a case of contempt. 
“No, I have never seen such a heavy punishment. Even considering the need for a deterrent, I had expected a custodial sentence but no more than six weeks. Does the punishment really serve justice?” said senior lawyer Karpal Singh, who had pleaded in mitigation for Hoslan. 
Hoslan praying at the court building in Putrajaya before being sentenced to jail
for contempt March 8 2012. — Picture by Choo Choy May (The Malaysian Insider)
Human rights lawyer N. Surendran also said “the sentence is excessive and inappropriate”. 
“The circumstances of this case required that justice should be tempered with mercy. This the Federal Court failed to do,” the PKR vice president said. 
Imam Hoslan Hussin: denied his day in court since 1999
Remember Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who enjoyed a brief burst of global fame and popularity in December 2008 for throwing his shoes at George W. Bush during a press conference?

[First posted 15 November 2013]

Imam Hoslan Hussin may or may not have been inspired by Muntadhar's act of raw courage and pure passion, but his act of shoe-throwing was most certainly in the same heroic and noble spirit.

Just as George W. Bush symbolized the hypocrisy and arrogance of power unleashed against the powerless in the interest of greedy corporations and their lunatic desire to dominate the world - economically and militarily - the Malaysian Judiciary since 1988 has become emblematic of everything that has gone wrong in our once blessed and bountiful land.

Zaki Azmi, retired Chief Justice
recently awarded a highway project
The monolithic power of the state apparatus maintains itself through cowing the masses - whether through the sort of colossal architecture you will find in the Kremlin and Putrajaya, or through the threat of physical violence, outsourced to vigilante mobs like Perkasa, Pekida, Rela, Redshirts and Mat Rempit on the Umno Youth payroll.

While those in the political opposition are constrained to operate within the framework of parliamentary debate - using their leverage to expose policy errors and serious wrongdoing - the proverbial man-in-the-street is confined to merely casting a vote every four or five years when a general election is called.

By casting his shoes at the bench of judges who had dismissed his case without due consideration or regard for the imam's growing sense of frustration with the ponderous, impersonal workings of so-called justice, Hoslan Hussin did the only thing possible to reclaim his dignity and sovereignty as a human individual.

Nobody, as far as I know, has ever been killed or even injured by a flying shoe. Indeed, if modern warfare consisted of squadrons of planes dropping a million pairs of shoes on a deeply insulted populace, the only casualty would be the local shoe industry - notwithstanding the hypothetical possibility that somebody gawping at the sight of shoes raining down from the skies might find himself with a set of fractured dentures, should one of these missiles land directly in his mouth.

In any case, if someone was extremely angry with me, I would much rather he or she lob a shoe at me - than a rock, for instance, or an empty bottle or a grenade. I would view this act of hostility as extremely negative feedback. Obviously, I must have said or done something to deeply hurt or annoy my assailant. It would present an opportunity to make amends by quietly returning the attacker's footwear with a sincere apology and a renewed effort to resolve the issue amicably.

What the Malaysian judiciary has done, in this instance, is utterly unpardonable. By imposing the harshest possible sentence on the imam - a one-year  imprisonment - they have only revealed their immaturity and vindictiveness. Those who sit in judgement of us, with their somber robes and deadpan expressions, were clearly handpicked for their jobs on account of their subservience to authoritarian principles - essentially, might makes right.

I feel far more respect for the funky imam's shoes than any of the judges who have denied him justice. I'm sure many will support my suggestion that the imam's shoes be displayed in a glass case as a symbol of honorable resistance to injustice - and that Hoslan Hussin be declared a national hero for making such a bold statement on behalf of all justice-loving, but justice-denied, Malaysians.

As for the judges, their names and images deserve to be assigned to the ever-growing judicial Hall of Shame.

[First posted 9 March 2012, reposted 23 November 2016]