What Penalty Should Be Served By Tahfiz Fire Suspects? Here's What Families Of Victims Say
Seven teenagers set fire to a tahfiz school in Kuala Lumpur at about 5.15am on 14 September. The incident led to the tragic death of 23 people, with the youngest victim only aged six years old.
Described as the country's worst fire disaster in 20 years, the incident has shocked many, especially after it was revealed that a group of teenagers are responsible for it
Two days after the incident, the authorities arrested seven teenagers between the ages of 11 and 18 who are allegedly responsible for the incident.
Initial investigations revealed that the motive may have arisen from a misunderstanding between the suspects and the tahfiz school students prior to the incident.
The suspects are believed to be children of immigrants who were born and raised in Malaysia. Six out of the seven teenagers tested positive for ganja when arrested.
Reports have also surfaced on how the teenagers showed no signs of remorse or even apologised for causing the death of 23 people.
While there are many comments online on how the suspects should be punished, some family members of the victims who died in the blaze have also revealed their thoughts on the suspects
Here's what they have to say:
1. "If the seven suspects are indeed guilty, they should be sentenced to death." - Mother of 11-year-old survivor
That's what one of the survivors' mother, 38-year-old Ermayani Normatias, said about the suspects.
Her son, Indrakurniawan Mohd Amirul, suffered 20% burns from his neck to buttocks and is currently fighting for his life at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital burn care intensive care unit (ICU). The 11-year-old boy also sustained burns on his hands and ended up with a broken leg, as he had to jump from the school's third floor to escape the fire.
Ermayani told New Straits Times that the suspects should be punished accordingly, if they are found guilty.
"I am shocked that they are just teenagers, but capable of committing such terrible act. They are like extremists and terrorists.
"It is absurd that they have such a mentality at a young age. I read that two suspects have past criminal records but they were freed and brazenly committed yet another crime. There is no guarantee they will change for the better. The authorities must investigate what had influenced them to carry out such an act. A death penalty will serve a lesson to others," she told the English daily.
2. "… the death sentence would not be able to correct the situation. Maybe a life-sentence in jail and they can be taught lessons from the al-Quran." - Father of 16-year-old victim
Another one of the victim's father thinks that death penalty for the suspects may not be the best idea.
46-year-old Norazizan Abd Razak, who is the father of Taufik Hidayat Norazizan, 16, who died in the blaze, is also against blaming the suspects' parents.
"I believe there is no need to criticise the parents, as no one would want their children to commit this act. If it is true that they were under the influence of drugs, the death sentence would not be able to correct the situation.
"Maybe a life-sentence in jail, and they can be taught lessons from the al-Quran (which will help them) turn over a new leaf. This is just my personal opinion, and I’m not sure how other families would react," he told Harian Metro, as reported by NST.
He also spoke about how Taufik, who is the third among his five children, was a very obedient son.
"I last saw him on Tuesday last week, at Taman Tasik Dato' Keramat, which is right behind the tahfiz school. I live near the school, so when I saw him, I bought some drinks and had a conversation with him. He seemed very normal and nothing was odd in his behaviour," he said, adding that he has accepted his son's untimely death as the will of god.
3. "I hope those responsible behind this, will get the punishment. It's better if they stay in prison forever." - Mother of 11-year-old victim
The mother of 11-year-old Muhammad Fahmie Abdullah, who perished in the early morning fire, also stressed that she will not forgive the suspects for the heinous act they've committed.
"I won't forgive what they did to the victims. It was intentional, right from the start. How could they? It was a very heartless act. No matter how I think about it, I just can’t reason their act and forgive them. I don’t want to meet them (suspects), I don't want to see their faces... I won't forgive them.
"I hope those responsible behind this, will get the punishment. It's better if they stay in prison forever. What kind of heart they have.. how could they (do this) to the tahfiz students," said 36-year-old Azlina Bakry when speaking to NST.
The victim's aunt, Noridayu Bakry, on the other hand, wants the suspects to apologise to the family members of the victims.
"I'm lost for words. It was a huge shock to all of us. I just want them to apologise to all of us, the family members of the victims. I believe they (suspects) will get a fair punishment, and on our part, we just want to close this painful chapter and move on," the 32-year-old added.
4. "I have forgiven them and I believe that they just wanted to scare off the students and didn’t mean to kill them." - Brother of teacher who died
Meanwhile, Nor Azam told NST that he has forgiven the teen suspects for starting the fire that killed his brother, Mohd Yusof Md, one of the two teachers who perished in the blaze.
He did not comment on the punishment for the suspects, but said that he wants to meet the suspects and give them advice "so that they will repent".
"I hope this tragic incident will be a lesson to other teenagers," added the 42-year-old.
5. "I forgive them (the suspects). I cannot bring myself to meet them or their families yet because it will only remind me of my dead son." - Father of two victims
Echoing the sentiments of some other family members of the victims, the father of 13-year-old Muhammad Nizammudin Nasrun, who died in the fire, also mentioned that he has forgiven the people responsible for his son's death.
His other son, 15-year-old Zunnun Misri, survived the incident and is currently receiving treatment at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital burn intensive care unit (ICU). He sustained 19% burns on his back and will be undergoing an operation today, 18 September.
"I accept the incident as fate. The tragedy has happened. There is nothing I can do to bring Nizammudin back. But I hope they and their future generations will receive guidance from God after what had happened," said the boys' 46-year-old father, Nasrun Mat Yusuf, as reported by NST.
What do you think about the parents' comments on the suspects? Let us know in the comment section below.