PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - More than 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for justice after a Malaysian woman escaped jail time after being found guilty of abusing her Indonesian maid.
Rozita Mohamad Ali, who carries the honorific title of "Datin", was sentenced to a good behaviour bond of five years by the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court last Thursday (March 15), even though the prosecution had asked for a jail sentence.
The petition, started on Saturday by an unnamed individual using the moniker "Equal Justice For Malaysians" on the change.com website had obtained 41,337 signatures as of noon on Monday.
The petition is seeking 50,000 signatures before it is forwarded to Prime Minister Najib Razak and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said.
Rozita was charged with abusing then 19-year-old Suyanti Sutrinso in 2016 using a kitchen knife, a steel mop, a clothes hanger and an umbrella.
She was accused of inflicting multiple injuries to Ms Suyanti's head, hands, legs and internal organs between 7am and 12pm on Dec 21, 2016, in a house in Mutiara Damansara, a middle-class suburb in Selangor. Horrific pictures of the maid's injuries were widely circulated on social media.
The petition claims that Rozita's actions against Ms Suyanti should have resulted in "stricter punishment". It added that that being rich and carrying the title of "Datin" should not give Rozita the right to treat people in an inhumane manner.
"What message are we sending to our people and children? Malaysia needs to seriously look at our human rights issue," the petition said.
Rozita was initially charged under section 307 of the Penal Code for attempted murder, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 20 years upon conviction. However, the charge was later amended to causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means under section 326 of the Penal Code.
The accused pleaded guilty to the lesser charge and Judge Mohammed Mokhzani Mokhtar sentenced her to be bound over for five years on a good behaviour bond of RM20,000 (S$6,728).
Deputy Public Prosecutor V. Suloshani had urged the court to mete out a jail sentence to serve as a deterrent against the accused.
However, Rozita's lawyer Rosal Azimin Ahmad applied for a good behaviour bond, claiming that his client had "repented".
Malaysian media reported on Saturday that Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali confirmed that his office would challenge the court's decision.
"The AGC (Attorney-General's Chambers) has filed a notice of appeal against the inadequacy of the sentence," he told the Malay Mail Online.