theSun Says - Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time

DATUK Seri Mohamad Khir Toyo's mitigation for a super light sentence after his conviction was upheld by the Federal Court, has been the talk of the city, if not the whole nation.

From the buzz in the social media, it is clear that to many, his mitigation was an absolute jaw-dropper.

That this convicted person had the cheek to offer to perform community service by giving free dental service three times a week instead of going to jail was plainly shocking.

The general consensus is that he should not be allowed to escape paying due penalty by spending time in prison.

In a nutshell, the sentiment is: "Did the crime. Do the time!"

In fact many hope that the Federal Court, when it sits to deliver judgment tomorrow, will not only reject his plea for a light sentence, but on the contrary, enhance the 12-month sentence meted out by the High Court.

This is especially so as the man was convicted of the odious crime of corruption, by abusing his power as mentri besar to enrich himself and his family.

And he has had a long reprieve, as the due process of the judicial system to afford him every opportunity and avenue of defending himself has taken eight years since he was charged.

But now that the learned judges have upheld his conviction, he should be man enough to take his due punishment.

And if he is really feeling repentant he can provide dental service to the people in the community he belongs to ... in Kajang prison.

After all, no one believes it when he says he didn't know the law then. The law then and now has not changed.

In any case, whether one believes him or not, the maxim is ignorantia juris non excusat – meaning ignorance of law is not an excuse to a criminal charge.

One shudders at the thought of this man claiming to be a "role-model" for his family ... or anyone else at all.

One Facebook posting, which succinctly articulated the general sentiment to Khir Toyo's audacious mitigation, went:

"If he wants to be a role model, he should willingly accept his punishment, in fact ask for a longer sentence, and help guide his fellow inmates in the prison he is sent to. Teach them about repentance, respect for the law, the Quran, courage in facing the truth and accepting punishment when you have sinned. He may win the Prison Department's Model Prisoner award. Then when he is released, he can offer his dental services to the poor and needy in Selangor for the rest of his life."

It has been said often that this country badly needs to regain what is seen as a massive trust deficit ... trust in the government, the judiciary and the rule of law.

As such, the clear message that should be sent out to all corrupted public officials and officers is that justice will be upheld and their crimes against the state and the people will not be tolerated.

Without a doubt, corruption is the biggest cancer afflicting this country. If there is less corruption, there would be much less crime, fewer guns in the hands of criminals, fewer illegal immigrants in the country, and less human trafficking, illegal gaming and other vices.

So when a public official is caught and convicted of such an odious crime, whether a first offender or not, they must be made to pay the appropriate price.

Irrespective of their so called past contributions to the country, they should be made to spend time behind bars.

Imagine if every convicted corrupt policeman were to mitigate that he should not go to jail because he has helped reduce crime while on the job.

Should we buy it? The clarion response should be be: "No dice. Go straight to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect RM200."

Can't do the time, don't do the crime.