'Disproportionate' sentence will not deter others, says Ramon Navaratnam

PETALING JAYA: The 12-month jail sentence dished out against former Selangor Mentri Besar Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo (pix) is “disproportionate” and will not deter others from committing corruption, said Asli's Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam.

He said that with this sentence, some people, including influential leaders and people in power might even be encouraged to participate in corruption because they will get off easily instead of facing the full force of the law.

“The sentence might not be a deterrent for leaders in top positions to indulge in grand corruption, it will only encourage corruption,” he told theSun.

He also urged the judiciary to look into the need for sentences meted out to be proportionate to the crime committed.

“If they are not proportionate, it may lead to an impression of selective justice practiced by the courts,” he said.

He did however state that it was a step in the right direction that a former mentri besar had been found guilty of corruption and that his plea to do community service in exchange for his jail sentence was not allowed.

“I am glad that he was not allowed to do community service as that would have set an unfortunate precedent and it would encourage others to indulge in corruption thinking that they can get away with it by doing charitable works for the community,” he said.

Meanwhile, former minister in the Prime Minister’s department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was also critical of the sentence, he said that Khir Toyo should get five years instead of just serving 12 months because of the rampant corruption in the country.

He also added that people have been sent to jail for longer terms having committed less severe crimes.

“Corruption is rampant. Yet we send people to jail for longer terms for stealing foodstuff and consenting sex offences,” he told theSun.

He said that the country has its sense of right and wrong all mixed up and it needs to change.

“We got our sense of right and wrong all jumbled up,” he added.

On Sept 22, a five-member panel of the Federal Court chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin upheld Dr Khir's corruption conviction but reserved its decision on sentencing.

Dr Khir, 50, had offered to give free dental treatment to the poor for one to two years in lieu of serving jail time.