KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 ― A Singaporean anti-death penalty activist earned a drubbing on Facebook after she wrote an emotional tribute about Kho Jabing, the Sarawakian who was executed in the island state yesterday for the murder of a Chinese national.
Angered by the hero treatment they claimed Kirsten Han had given the convicted killer, Facebook users flooded her timeline with comments, many angrily telling the activist to pay the same respect to the murdered Cao Ruyin.
“If Kirsten wants to make the murderer the victim and martyr and the victim anonymous, I have very serious doubts about her own personal values.
“What kind of society does she think we should be? Sounds like she supports the ideology of a particular Middle East country where women who are raped are guilty and the rapists are victims,” said user Surya Kumar.
“Actually, this post by her makes me sick!” she added.
Han, in her post yesterday, had posted photographs of Jabing as a youth and written about his childhood and life in Miri before he moved to Singapore in search of a better life for his family.
She said on the night of the murder, Jabing had consumed alcohol, and that this may have affected his mental faculties.
She lashed out at Singapore’s criminal justice system for the roller coaster ride Jabing was put through after he was sentenced to death and kept in prison for nine years while awaiting the punishment, which was commuted at one point to life imprisonment but then changed again to the original sentence.
User Jun Cai told Han to stop “romanticising” murderers and, referring to the activist’s inclusion of tales of Jabing’s early years in the tribute note, pointed out that everyone, even murderers, have childhoods.
Julian Lim pointed out that the victim, a 40-year-old Chinese construction worker, did not get a second chance at life but little has been said about his family and his life.
“Worthless piece of journalism. While we do not celebrate his execution, there is a need to romanticise it? I’m utterly appalled by the lack of objective displayed by the author.
“Did the victim not have a childhood? Your energies could be better served helping those who truly deserve it. Cold and callous article. Utter rubbish,” another user, Tan Tim, said.
User Lee Ryan took pains to write a tribute to Cao and tagged Han to the note where he, in graphic description, detailed how Jabing had attacked the man with a tree branch.
“The defenceless Cao Ruyin was struck on the head time after time, blow after blow, as blood begin to trickle down his mangled face.
“JABING KHO did NOT stop. He continued to rain severe and relentless blows, punches and kicks on a already subdued victim. He had bludgeoned Cao Ruyin on the head with a tree branch while robbing him, raining blows as he laid on the ground.
“Cao Ruyin had his skull completely shattered from a massive 14 fractures, finally succumbing to his injuries six days later,” Lee wrote.
User Patrick Kong called Han “shameless” and accused her of double standards, asking if she would have cared to write a similar tribute to Cao who had died at Jabing’s hands.
“Do you care to also write about ‘The Life of Chao Ru Ying’, the innocent person whom the murderous Kho Jabing brutally and viciously murdered with 14 deadly blows that causes 14 fractures in Chao’s skull.
“Your shamelessness really knows no boundary and you still have the audacity to make a hero out of this murderous devil? Unbelievable!” Kong wrote.
As more comments poured in, Han decided to respond to her attackers, telling them that she felt no obligation to write a more “balanced” tribute as she was not producing a news report.
“I don’t apologise for it,” she said, adding that she would have written about the late Cao and interviewed his family as well but she could not be “everywhere at once writing everything at once”.
“I am just one person and am not omniscient. Also, I would very much like to encourage people to get involved in the things that they believe in ― if you feel that not enough attention or support is given to victims and their families, please take action and help them however you can.
“Set up support groups, raise funds, write their stories to fill that gap you so clearly see.
“Feel free to get in touch with me ― as I said, I'm more than willing to interview and document the struggles faced by victims ― and we will try to work something out. I will do my best,” Han said.
At the time of writing, Han’s tribute note has been shared 1,121 times, and garnered more than 1,300 reactions and about 383 comments.
Jabing was executed in Singapore yesterday afternoon, shortly after losing his bid to defer the punishment.