Savaged over reprieve for kiddie porn convict, chairman insists MARA not biased

The Southwark Crown Court yesterday confirmed that Nur Fitri was sentenced to 18 months’ jail. — File pic
The Southwark Crown Court yesterday confirmed that Nur Fitri was sentenced to 18 months’ jail. — File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) was not politically biased in its actions, chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa insisted amid complaints over its offer of a “second chance” for a sponsoree convicted of child pornography in the UK.

According to Annuar, MARA had rescinded Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin’s scholarship upon his conviction by a London court on April 30.

The former federal minister said those accusing MARA of bias due to the perceived leniency towards Nur Fitri were confusing compassion for partisanship, adding that the agency also sponsors Malaysian regardless of affiliations.

“One must differentiate political leaning and being convicted in a court of law or proven breach of contract… how can we terminate based on political leaning whereas we do sponsor children of opposition leaders and supporters,” he told Malay Mail Online.

MARA came under fire after council member Nazir Hussin Akhtar Hussin reportedly said on Tuesday that Nur Fitri would be allowed to continue his studies in any of its institutions once his sentence in the UK was complete.

Nazir said the offer was to give the student a “second chance”, describing the 23-year-old as a “smart” student who can be an “asset” to the country.

Annuar on his Facebook page also supported giving Nur Fitri a chance to be rehabilitated since he had psychiatric disorder, but maintained that MARA was not condoning the student’s behaviour as it had terminated his scholarship.

“Should we just condemn forever? Many drug offenders, AIDS and others who are facing more serious problems cannot rehabilitate because we keep condemning them..what else a case with psychiatric disorder which needs support and help and not condemnation,” he wrote yesterday.

MARA’s leniency and a minister’s reported plan to appeal Nur Fitri’s sentence had outraged the Malaysian public including members of the opposition and activists who said the government appeared to view dissent more seriously than sexual offences.

One of them, student activist Adam Adli Abdul Halim, pointed out that public universities often suspend or expel its students for allegedly being pro-opposition.

Defending the government, Annuar again said universities and MARA only punish students guilty of violating the law and not because of their political leanings.

“We always get mixed up between political leaning and political activities that go against the law. Political activity is not a licence to break the law,” he said.

According to British media last week, Nur Fitri, who was studying on a Mara scholarship at Imperial College London, was found to be in possession of over 30,000 videos and photographs of child pornography that London’s Metropolitan Police have described as “some of the most extreme” materials they have ever seen.

The Southwark Crown Court yesterday confirmed that Nur Fitri was sentenced to 18 months’ jail, correcting the initial statement from the London Metropolitan Police reporting a five-year term for the Malaysian.

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