Stop pampering criminals

"MURDER or self-defence?" (Front page, Jan 9) refers. Commenting on a case, a senior criminal lawyer was reported to have explained that "if despite knowing that a person could have defused an act of crime without causing harm, but still used excessive force and causing the death of the criminal, it would no longer be considered as self-defence." How does it work in real life?

How many lawyers, if surprised or shocked by intruders, will calmly consider their options for self-defence, and settle on one that is not excessive so that the intruders are not harmed more than what is "reasonable"?

While the lawyers decide on the force to use and look for an appropriate weapon will the intruders wait or strike first?

When a person embarks on a crime, he forfeits all his rights to his safety and life. So why should the law and lawyers defend his "forfeited rights"?

It is not a question whether the robber had a screw driver, a knife, a gun or just bare hands, for even bare hands can be lethal. The victim's impulses instinctively prepare him for the worst and the victim has no wilful control over this.

Criminals enter people's houses with intention to commit a crime; intention to do what is necessary; intention to defend themselves if discovered or set upon by the victims even if it means injuring, or killing the victims.

Intention does not happen spontaneously, eg when acting in self-defence on the spur of the moment. It is planned. The thief plans in advance, prepares himself, arms himself, chooses the time and place to commit the crime. The victim plans nothing against the criminal. He defends himself to the best of his ability and might get killed or severely injured. In how many such cases have the thieves or intruders been charged with murder?

Survival instinct takes over when one is in sudden, unexpected danger. How do you tell instinct to "defuse an act of crime without causing harm, or using excessive force that might cause the death of the criminal"?

So what intention can be imputed to a tenant in a house who is surprised by the intruder and reacts spontaneously to defend himself, his family and property? What state of mind is a victim in when suddenly faced with unknown eventuality? What chemical reactions are running through his mind at that moment? Is he in a fit state of mind to calmly consider the options and decide on the methodology that will not cause "more than reasonable harm" to the intruder, before doing anything?

One victim may freeze and be helpless; another may try to hide or escape, and yet another may confront the intruder with anything that comes to his hand. There is no time to consider the options that will not cause more than "reasonable" harm to the intruders. So legalistic talk about "fine line between committing murder and acting in self-defence" is most absurd to say the least.

The "fine line" argument can apply only in the case of victims whose reflexes have been trained, eg elite police personnel. These officers are well trained, and undergo regular "revisions", to know what is "excessive force" and how much and what kind of force to apply in a given situation. Even ordinary policemen are not capable of this as can be seen in the case of Aminulrasyid Amzah and a few others where they used excessive force. So how can the general public be expected to know and practise "sufficient or reasonable" force?

What happens in a reverse scenario, where the robber panics and flees, and falls to his death? Will the victim be charged for being the root cause of the robber's death?

Enough of legalistic arguments to defend criminals. Stop pampering and defending them by turning tables on the helpless victims. Any intruder who gets killed while committing his crime does not have any rights against his victims. They should be considered to have "mati katak". They go knowing the consequences, and it is their own funeral if they get killed.

The law should be amended to give full protection to people genuinely defending themselves or any other law abiding persons who are being set upon by criminals anywhere and in any way. This is one effective way of fighting crime.

It is unacceptable that criminals are being defended and accorded "rights" to their life and wellbeing even when committing crimes, injuring or even killing others.

Ravinder Singh