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COMMENT | This Deepavali, a tale of two mothers - Panchalai and Rosmah

"He doesn’t really get what is happening. He has some vague idea that something is going to happen to him on the 10th of November but he thinks he is going to go to a beautiful garden and be happy there. It’s beyond words.” - N Surendran

COMMENT | This Deepavali, two mothers will be in Singapore to visit their offspring. 

Panchalai Supermaniam who works as a cleaner will visit her intellectually challenged son in prison who is to be executed on Nov 10 and Rosmah Mansor, the wife of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is currently on trial for receiving bribes, will be visiting her pregnant daughter, no doubt in more luxurious circumstances.

One child will be executed and the other will give birth. One mother will know the anguish of loss and the other will greet a new life with joy. While Panchalai has to rely on the goodwill of strangers to raise money for her final trip to see her son, the other faces no such obstacles. 

Indeed, while the alleged crimes of Rosmah amount to millions, the son of Panchalai is going to be executed for strapping a couple of grams of diamorphine to his thighs.

If this does not tell us something about the justice system, here and in Singapore, well there is nothing more to say. 

This Deepavali, two mothers will have very different conversations with their children. Panchalai child belongs to a class of children - of any race - which has felt the brunt of the failed policies of successive governments.

These “children of Malaysia” are the forgotten children; those children that the state has deemed transgressed against the state. 

While politicians and their cronies steal money from public coffers and practise divisive politics, these children - drug mules to capitalists of the black economy who bribe and conspire with state actors - face the ultimate punishment.

I have no idea how Panchalai will react to seeing her son. As someone who has witnessed final moments of visits in situations like these, I can tell you, it normally does not go well. 

You are at the mercy of an uncaring system that only seeks to carry...

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