Are Good Grades A Justified Reason To Give Child Porn Offender Nur Fitri A Second Chance?

"I agree that people should be given second chances in life, but there should also be a mechanism to ensure that such offenders are kept track of and prevented from any opportunities to commit such crimes again."

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PM Najib Disapproves Of Government Appeal For Nur Fitri's "Terrible Crime"

"I do not agree with suggestions or comments by some people that the government will appeal the case of Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin to reduce his sentence, let alone the use of public funds for these purposes," Najib wrote in a posting on his blog.

“Nur Fitri has been tried in the British legal system, given the opportunity to defend himself, and found guilty. The offence committed was a terrible crime. We must respect the law and those found guilty must be punished in line with the offence committed."

The Prime Minister also noted that 23-year-old, who is currently jailed for possessing child pornography in the UK, should be counselled to prevent any repeat of his offences before he can be let loose into society

"Nur Fitri must be given the services of counselling so that he will not repeat the offence, for his sake and that of society. This should be carried out so that he can be accepted back into society," Najib said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said that Nur Fitri will be a "free man" if he comes back to Malaysia after serving his sentence in the UK.

Contrary to IGP Khalid's statement earlier, Noor Rashid said that Nur Fitri will not be monitored as there is no official sex offenders' registry in place.

"He will be a free man but if he commits the same crime here, we will go after him," said Noor Rashid of the 23-year-old Mara scholarship student.

He also said no monitoring would be done and that although Malaysia had no official sex offenders' registry, the police do keep a record of convicts and suspects in a database.

"We call them registered offenders. We have them in our list but it cannot be shared with the public," said Noor Rashid after a ceremony at a police event in Kuala Lumpur on 7 May.

On a related note, Women, Family and Community Development minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said that the ministry is currently looking into the suggestion of setting up a sex offenders' registry and in the process of collecting public feedback

She said the ministry recently held a town hall meeting to discuss ways to strengthen existing laws, and was also gathering feedback from the public.

"I call for all to submit to us your worries and concerns, because this matter does not only fall under our ministry and we have to work with the police and other agencies."

"We really regret what the Malaysian student did as it has definitely tarnished the country's good name. On that aspect, he is sick. He needs help and has to go through rehabilitation, counselling, psychiatric observation and treatment," she said, adding that Nur Fitri Azmeer should also not be allowed to be free in society.

7 May: MARA councilman says "second chance" statement is a personal opinion and not representative of MARA

Image via Sinar Harian

According to MARA council member Nazir Hussin, he had earlier told the reporter interviewing him that he had no capacity to answer a question on behalf of MARA. He added that he had called the writer to amend the news report as it could tarnish his image and reputation as the a MARA Council member as well as an Umno Youth Exco member. However, no amendment was made by the news portal.

“I am so disappointed. I was made the scapegoat by the news portal which may have an agenda to defend Nur Fitri. I am warning the news portal to amend the story or face further action from me,” the statement, which was posted on his Facebook page said.

On the other hand, MARA chairperson Tan Sri Annuar Musa stated that "humanitarian" assistance will still be provided to Nur Fitri as he is still considered a MARA scholar. He also advised the public to not be too harsh in condemning the convicted 23-year-old.

Image via mStar

“For the time being, MARA has not decided anything about his position after the punishment,” Annuar said in a brief statement on his official Facebook page.

“For now, he is considered a MARA scholar abroad and we are still helping in humanitarian aspect and as a Malaysian citizen.”

"Helping those with problems is our responsibility," said Annuar, who is also BN's Ketereh MP, said on his Facebook page.

"There is a limit to condemnation. Simply condemning does not benefit anyone. God can forgive, so who are we (to do otherwise)?" he asked.

G25 coordinator Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin warned that Nur Fitri may act on his perverted sexual fantasies in Malaysia if he is released back into society without being treated or rehabilitated

“This student has a very serious problem which needs to be treated. He should not be released into society until he has received treatment and a team of psychiatrists has certified that he has been completely cured of his condition,” she said in a statement emailed to the media this morning.

“Otherwise, from mere possession of paedophile porn, he might graduate to physically acting out his sexual fantasies and pose a real danger to children,” she added.

Damansara Utama MP Yeo Bee Yin, who recently launched a digital campaign on rape awareness, had a similar view, saying that the government should focus on protecting Malaysian children by ensuring that Nur Fitri is properly treated for his perversions and put under strict surveillance upon his return

“We must make sure that convicts like Nur Fitri are fully rehabilitated upon their release from jail,” she said, echoing a similar view raised earlier today by G25 coordinator Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin.

“There must be personnel who are in charge of monitoring their behaviours for an extended period of time beyond their jail terms. Former convicts should be prohibited by law from taking jobs that are related to children such as teachers and coaches,” Yeo added.

IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar assured the public that Nur Fitri will be kept on the police's radar when he eventually returns to Malaysia after serving his prison term in the UK. However, he clarified that there are no laws that provide for a sex offenders' registry here.

Image via The Star Online

He was also asked if Malaysia has a sex offenders' registry and if it could be made public in the interest of the general population, he said there was no such registry.

"We have a registry on people convicted of crime for Malaysia and Singapore. We have the records but we cannot publicise it. We cannot go around telling the world that Mr A committed a crime like a sex offence," he said.

When put to him that there was such a practice overseas, he said there was no law allowing that in Malaysia now.

"We don't have a law that allows that yet. Perhaps there may be one in the future.

"Paedophilia is not so noticeable a crime in this country but we do monitor and take it seriously," he said.

Citing studies showing that sex offenders tend to go back to their old ways, lawyers are pushing for a sex offenders' registry to be set up in Malaysia.

Criminal lawyer and former deputy public prosecutor Datuk Geethan Ram Vincent said studies have shown that most sex offenders, especially those who prey on children, have a tendency to reoffend.

He said this database should be updated with the latest addresses of convicted sexual offenders, noting that Malaysia currently only has a general registry of the criminal records kept in the federal police headquarters with addresses that may not be updated.

Human rights lawyer Honey Tan similarly said Malaysia should have a sex offenders registry to list the convicted offenders and called for it to be made public, but urged caution in the implementation of the database.

“I believe research has shown that there is a high recidivism rate for sexual offenders. The details of how this register is to be set up and maintained should be carefully studied — we must not rush into setting one up just for the sake of having one,” she said.

Additionally, it was pointed out that the laws in this country does not adequately cover the possession and viewing of porn, despite the existence of laws that govern the production and distribution of obscene material

There appears to be no laws in the country to tackle possession of porn if the scholarship holder or anyone else here were to view obscene material, lawyers say.

This is because while Section 292 of the Penal Code deals with sale and distribution of obscene material, and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) deal with the making, creating and transmitting of such material, they do not touch the issue of possession and viewing, lawyers said.

In the meantime, the #NoSecondChance hashtag is still a top trending topic on Twitter with Malaysians rallying behind it in protest of giving the convicted paedophile a "second chance" to complete his studies here

6 May: DAP's Zairil Khir Johari proposes sex offenders registry to monitor and restrict known sex offenders

In light of MARA's decision to offer child porn offender Nur Fitri another chance to complete his studies in Malaysia, Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari released a statement earlier today stating that he believes "it is time the Government considers setting up a sex offender registry in order to allow law enforcement agencies to monitor and restrict known sex offenders."

Image via MyNewsHub

"While I am not against efforts towards rehabilitation of an offender, I wonder whether any parent would be comfortable knowing that their children would be studying alongside someone convicted of such an extreme case of sexual offence. I agree that people should be given second chances in life, but there should also be a mechanism to ensure that such offenders are kept track of and prevented from any opportunities to commit such crimes again.

In many countries, such a mechanism takes the form of a sex offender registry that allows law enforcement agencies to monitor and place restrictions on the movements and activities of offenders, depending on their type of offence, sentence-length and risk of reoccurrence. Restrictions include limited access to certain locations such as schools or day-care centres, being involved in work with minors, or using the Internet.

In most countries that maintain a sex offender registry, information is only available to authorised police personnel and relevant departments that deal with child welfare and education. Although the registry is made publicly available in the United States, there are disputes as to its effectiveness of an open database, in addition to concerns about the potential violation of civil liberties," the statement said.

Referencing past widely-publicised cases, Zairil also pointed out that sexual offences are on the rise in the country with most involving victims under 16 years of age. Furthermore, some offenders manage to walk free or are never caught.

"Sexual offences are increasingly becoming a scourge in Malaysia. Recently, Damansara Utama Assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin highlighted that a woman is raped every 35 minutes in Malaysia. Worst of all, most of the victims are under the age of 16.

I am sure many of us recall the 2007 case of 8-year-old Nurin Jazlin who went missing near her family home in Wangsa Maju. She would later be found sexually assaulted and strangled to death. Her rapist and murderer remains free.

Besides Nurin Jazlin, there have been numerous other cases of horrific sexual offences against children in recent times, such as the rape and murder of 10-year-old Nurul Huda Abdul Ghani and 5-year-old Nurul Nadirah Abdullah, also known as Dirang.

While many of us look to the law to protect our children, two separate cases in 2012 saw two men found guilty of statutory rape who were released on good behaviour bonds instead of being sent to jail.

As a parent, the above cases, as well as the recent conviction of the Malaysian scholar in the UK, makes me sick to my stomach. Therefore, I believe that it is time the Government considers setting up a sex offender registry in order to allow law enforcement agencies to monitor and restrict known sex offenders," he concluded.

Meanwhile, Marina Mahathir gave MARA a piece of her mind in a series of tweets criticising the government agency's definition of Nur Fitri as an "exemplary student" and some people's misplaced priorities

5 May: Malaysian student Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin was sentenced to five years of jail after he was convicted of possessing over 30,000 possession images and videos of child pornography in the UK

Image via Melvister

The 23-year-old, a Mathematics scholar at the world-renowned Imperial College in London, was arrested in November last year after police discovered an internet account that had been downloading thousands of sexual abuse images and videos.

Investigations eventually led them to Nur Fitri, who was found next to a life-sized mannequin of a young boy with his laptop open.

Image via Melvister

Nordin, 23, of Queensborough Terrace, west London, arrived in the UK from Malaysia as a student at Imperial College last year.

His collection was described as one of the "most extreme images that have ever been seen" by Metropolitan Police Officers.

More than 30,000 images and videos of children being abused were discovered after a search through his electronic devices, including a significant number from the highest category depicting the most extreme abuse.

The maths scholar was caught in possession of 601 videos and images belonging to category A (abuse involving penetrative sexual activity with children), as well as hundreds of category B and C ones.

DC Sara Keane, of the Met’s Serious Crime Unit, said: "Nordin was involved in the making and sharing of some of the most extreme images that have ever been seen by officers that work in this field. The volume of images and the alarming content meant that a custodial sentence for Nordin was inevitable."

DC Sara Keane added: "This appalling case demonstrates the danger some adults pose to young and vulnerable children. Those who download this material, and then distribute to others, are fuelling the demand and creating yet more defenceless victims."

Nur Fitri appeared at Southwark Crown Court on 30 April, where he was sentenced to five years of prison for a total of 13 offences, which he has previously pleaded guilty to, and will be considered for automatic deportation when he completes his jail term

Image via Melvister

He appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, April 30, for sentencing, having previously been convicted of; five counts of making indecent photographs of a child; one count of possessing indecent videos (namely 124 Category A videos; 24 Category B videos; 87 Category A images); four counts of possession with intent to distribute indecent images of children; two counts of making indecent images of a child and one count of possession of indecent images and videos of children (namely 477 Category A videos and images; 274 Category B images and videos; 170 Category C videos and images).

The Ministry of Rural and Regional Development are considering an appeal to the Southwark Crown Court to reduce the jail term imposed on Nur Fitri

Its minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said this when commenting on the London court's decision to sentence Nur Fitri to five years in prison on 13 offences of possessing more than 30,000 pornographic images and videos of children.

"We can appeal (to reduce the length of the sentence), the problem is we are subjected to the prevailing laws of the country. We have to respect the laws that other countries practise," he told reporters after attending the Mara programme with Rompin entrepreneurs in Kuala Rompin on Monday.

Meanwhile, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), who was reported to have sent Nur Fitri to London last year under a study loan, has since terminated the loan with immediate effect after the charges were filed against him

Image via Melvister

Nur Fitri who is from Malim Nawar, Perak had studied at Sekolah Menengah Sains Teluk Intan.

After completing his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) in 2009, Nur Fitri had continued his education at a local college in Malaysia before being offered a scholarship from Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) to continue his education at the Imperial College in London to study mathematics.

MARA Corporate Communications Division director Rohayah Mohd Zain in a statement here today said MARA viewed seriously offences committed by students it sponsored.

"MARA had suspended the loan since he was charged last November. However, following his conviction and sentencing, the loan is terminated with immediate effect and he has to pay back all the money extended to him," she said.

Strangely, MARA has also disputed British media's reports that Nur Fitri is to be jailed for five years, claiming that it is actually a nine-month sentence. The government agency is also hopeful that he will be deported in the next three to four weeks.

Image via Melvister

The sentence was backdated to November when he was first arrested, meaning Nur Fitri only had to spend another four months in jail, Mara said in a statement yesterday.

Based on Visa and Immigration laws in the United Kingdom, a person who has served two-thirds of his prison sentence can be deported back to his country. This means he can be sent home in the next three to four weeks,” Mara said.

That's not all. MARA will be offering a 'second chance' and a show of support for Nur Fitri by allowing him to continue his studies in any MARA institution in Malaysia once he returns home.

In justifying their decision, MARA council member Nazir Hussin Akhtar Hussin said, "He is a smart student and it is a pity to waste someone who can be an asset to the country."

"In unofficial discussions, council members and the Mara chairman have agreed to give him a second chance after he serves his sentence. We will support him in any way possible to help him rebuild his character and one way is to give him a chance to study in any Mara institution," said Nazir.

However, he said the second chance was not only extended to Nur Fitri but also other exemplary students sponsored by MARA that face the same fate.

"Any individual who repents for a mistake should be given a second chance after being punished especially among gifted students who can become national assets," he said.

He claimed prison officials had reported good conduct by Nur Fitri until his sentence was reduced, thereby justifying their decision to give him a second chance.

Echoing the sentiment is Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS), who asked for Nur Fitri to be allowed to continue his studies in a local university after he is sent back to Malaysia

Image via Sinar Harian

“GPMS will discuss with Mara on this issue, so Nur Fitri will be allowed to continue his studies in any education institution in this country after he is sent home,” GPMS president Jais Abdul Karim told the paper.

MARA's comments did not sit well with some Malaysians who've taken to social media to voice their concerns over the "leniency" that is being shown to a convicted sex offender, especially when compared to the hoo-ha that had resulted from other issues

Understandably, no small amount of uproar resulted from the notion that Nur Fitri being a "smart student" could somehow compensate for the severity of his crimes

Talks of appealing for Nur Fitri's jail sentence to be reduced also does not bode well for Malaysia's reputation when it comes to handling offenders of child pornography and sexual abuse towards children

Ultimately, the question that should be asked before making any further statements about Nur Fitri is this - do we really want to be seen as a country that is far too soft on sex offenders, especially when it involves the exploitation of young children?

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