The heartrending episodes generated from the Canny Ong murder trial were the focus of many readers. While many sympathised with her for whatever atrocities she might have undergone in the few hours she went missing on that Friday the 13th in June before she died, many also asked why she had not been able to escape when opportunities seemed abundant. CHELSEA LY.NG writes.
APPEARING in the court of Justice Muhamad Ideres Rapiee, the judge in the Canny Ong murder trial, can be a real pleasure.
His good sense of humour and wit over the last five days had the court in stitches at the most unexpected times.
Justice Muhamad Ideres livened up the atmosphere in court with his witty remarks and comical suggestions.
On the first day of trial, he pulled a magnifying glass out of his stationery pouch and offered it to Canny's mother, Pearly Visvanathan, to look at some photographs.
Then when cellphones started ringing in the courtroom, he asked the attendees, whom he described as his guests, to refrain from switching on their phones.
“I'm afraid I might fall asleep because the ringing tone is too melodious,” he said.
Even Pearly, who had broken down in tears while narrating the circumstances surrounding the farewell dinner for her daughter that turned into the latter's “last supper,” occasionally smiled at the judge's actions.
Once, when a witness mentioned the word “culvert” and the court was asked to find a Malay word for it, the judge said: “Culvert in English, khalwat in Malay,” and had the courtroom breaking into laughter.
While another witness was describing to defence counsel Haniff Khatri Abdulla the brightness of the area where he found Canny and the accused Ahmad Najib Aris, the judge quickly caught hold of a table calendar.
He said to the lawyer: “It was 14 Rabiulakhir. As a Muslim, you should know what time of the month it was. It was near full moon.”
The judge's sense of humour helped to ease the tension looming over the trial right from the start.
However, the question remained as to why Canny, the 29-year-old US-based information technology analyst, did not escape despite the many chances she seemed to have had.
Some called it fate, saying that her time had come.
But many are still puzzled as to why she did not try to leave the car while her abductor was busy trying to change a flat tyre.
The media reports moved many readers, including Pearly.
She seemed perplexed over some of the stories about her daughter not budging from her car seat when a Good Samaritan, suspecting something fishy, knocked on her window asking her to get out.
“I don't understand why she did not come out. It's just too frustrating to think that she could have escaped but she did not use the chance.
“Maybe she could not come out. Maybe her movement was limited. Some people guessed that she was charmed. I don't believe it was charm because from the stories I heard, I felt that she was alert,” said Pearly, a 57-year-old retired schoolteacher-cum-remisier.
Pearly was not the only one who tried to find an answer to the riddle-ridden situation.
Many informal discussions on the matter had taken place in coffee shops, offices, staff rooms and even the court's public gallery during breaks.
On the third day of trial, after witnesses had testified about Canny using hand gestures and facial expressions to signal for help at two venues, a journalist from a vernacular newspaper walked up to a prosecutor.
The elderly man had the most puckered brows accentuating his already wrinkled forehead.
He asked the standard question, “Why didn't Canny Ong run?”
The ever-courteous DPP Salehuddin Saidin told him to be patient as the trial was still in its opening stage.
Journalists might know that they run the risk of committing contempt of court by writing sub-judice articles but the public is dying to know why Canny did not run.
To quell their frustration, some of my friends, all of whom avidly read about the trial, rang up not to say “Hello” but “Just to find out whether you know why she didn't run away.”
The prosecution team of three had so far called 10 witnesses and the public should accept the reports with an open mind instead of making conjectures and speculations.
A tabloid reporter was cautioned by Haniff, who is also the lead counsel, for reporting privileged information exchanged between his team and Ahmad's family.
The verbal complaint was over a speculative story based on unnamed sources obtained outside the trial.
Since the case is already being heard in court, journalists should not start creating evidence on their own about the accused, the victim or their family members.
What they should do is to wait and see.
After all, they say patience pays.
So lets wait until Jan 12 when the trial resumes.
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