Eleven years is a long time to spend on death row. It is torturous to be trapped on a roller coaster ride of hope and despair, wishing for the near impossible chance of being spared. Having exhausted all his appeals, Ahmad Najib Aris was executed for the 2003 murder of Canny Ong early yesterday.
It is an extremely long time to be in a state of uncertainty. The former aircraft cabin cleaning supervisor paid the ultimate price for raping and killing Ong after abducting her from a shopping complex in Bangsar in 2003.
A Kajang prison spokesman said the Ahmad Najib, 40, was executed at about 6am and his body was later buried at the Sungai Kantan Muslim cemetery in Kajang. The condemned murderer was allowed to meet his family members for the last time on Thursday.
If there is consolation for his family, Ahmad Najib was a changed man in prison. His former lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla described him as a “good Muslim” while in jail.
In leading prayers in jail and also teaching other inmates about religion, Ahmad Najib made his peace with the Almighty before he was executed. “To me, at least the time he was in prison, he was a better person than many outside,” The Star quoted the lawyer as saying.
Hopefully, his family can accept his fate and move on. Likewise for the kins of the victim, it had been a harrowing 11 years filled with sorrow, anguish and heartache. Perhaps, they can find closure with the execution of her murderer.
At such a time, the feelings of both the families of the perpetrator and the victim are delicate. It would seem insensitive to ask if justice was served.
The murder sparked uproar due to the seemingly random violence perpetrated. Since Ahmad Najib had no apparent motive, there were speculations and conspiracy theories over the crime he committed. It serves no purpose to revisit them.
Ahmad Najib was the perpetrator and not the victim. There is no doubt about it. But the execution revives an old debate on capital punishment. Does the death penalty provide justice for society or the murder victim? Does it not also cause great injustice to the family of the executed convict? Do executions closure to families of the wronged parties?
Amnesty International condemned the execution. “The death penalty is never an answer. Hanging a man for murder is not justice, it is revenge. We oppose the use of capital punishment regardless of the crime committed,” Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said in a statement.
Is the death sentence society’s way to exact a pound of flesh when we don’t have the moral right, individually or collectively, to end a life?
Society will search itself each time a condemned man is executed. Doesn’t everyone have an inalienable right to life even if he has taken one? The argument against it is the killer has forfeited that right. Does the death penalty help to keep us safe?