Press Statement

The AG must appeal the lenient ‘binding over’ sentence against Datin Rozita Mohamad Ali for causing grievous hurt to her domestic worker

16 March 2018

Lawyers for Liberty are shocked and appalled by the extremely lenient sentence of ‘binding over’ for good behaviour that was handed down to Datin Rozita Mohamad Ali for severely abusing her then-19-year-old Indonesian domestic worker, Suyanti Sutrinso. The sentence yesterday by Sessions Court judge Mohammed Mokhzani Mokhtar is all the more shocking since the prosecution has already called 10 witnesses, including the victim and doctors who treated her, and therefore considerable time, expenses and resources have been expended.

Datin Rozita was initially charged for attempted murder but she pleaded guilty under the amended charge of causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons under section 326 of the Penal Code which provides for imprisonment for up to 20 years. It is a serious offence, and further warrants a deterrent sentence due the public interest that such offences ought to be treated seriously by the administration of justice.

We are unable to see under what extenuating circumstances that could have made Datin Rozita deserving to be bound over for such a serious offence, when she had caused multiple injuries to the victim’s hands, head, legs, and internal organs using a kitchen knife, mop, iron rod, clothes hanger, and umbrella.

For such a serious offence to go unpunished is an outrage of justice, especially when viewed in the context of the multiple cases of abuse that have happened in Malaysia. Barely a month ago, Adelina Lisao, a 21-year-old Indonesian domestic worker forced to sleep next to the dog outside the house by her employers died in Penang. Names such as Mey Sichan, a 24-year-old Cambodian domestic worker starved to death, or Meriance Kabu, 23-year-old Indonesian domestic worker who was tortured and sexually assaulted by her employers should be etched into our public memory as a mark of shame.

An unjust sentence such as the case of Suyanti Sutrinso sends out the wrong message that it is alright to abuse domestic workers and treat them inhumanely, and all the more so, if you are affluent or well connected.

Enough is enough. Offenders like Datin Rozita cannot be allowed to get away scot-free; a clear statement must be made that Malaysia as a civilised country will not tolerate such despicable treatment of our fellow human beings anymore.

We call upon the Attorney-General to appeal the decision of the Sessions Court, and to seek a more proportionate sentence for the heinous crime that Datin Rozita has admitted to.

Released by:

Eric Paulsen

Executive Director

Lawyers for Liberty