Malaysians have mixed views on return of serial rapist who assaulted 1,000

PETALING JAYA - Convicted serial rapist Selva Kumar Subbiah will be back in the country from Canada in three days and a policeman who knows him says there is no guarantee that he will not strike again.

However, lawyers in Malaysia say there is nothing here to protect Malaysians from the serial criminal. The authorities can only act against him if he commits a crime on Malaysian soil.

Opinions are mixed about Selva Kumar's return and what that means to Malaysians.

On Monday, retired Canadian police investigator Brian Thomson, in a podcast on crime blog Cancrime, said that "he (Selva Kumar) is not going to stop".

However, lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu said Selva Kumar had completed his sentence in Canada.

"Other than a criminal record, he is a free man. Unless he commits another crime here, the police cannot tap him," he said when contacted yesterday.

File photo of Selva Kumar in the 1990s.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad said any criminal who had served his sentence under the criminal justice system should be given a second chance.

On suggestions of a sex offenders registry, Amer said there should be an in-depth and thorough study before the system could be put in place.

"There are pros and cons. Having such laws or registry may be appropriate for violent and repetitive sex offenders but there may be some ex-offenders who will never commit such an offence again.

"Having such a registry would amount to hanging scarlet letters around the necks of ex-offenders and creating a stigma. It may make it difficult for ex-convicts to start a new life," he said.

The registry, Amer added, might also create a "lynch mob mentality" among the public who might be quick to take matters into their own hands.

Meanwhile, Baljit urged the media not to carry out "character assassination" of Selva Kumar despite the crimes he committed in Canada.

What was more important was the change in structure for rehabilitation for ex-convicts, he said.

Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist Prof P. Sundramoorthy reportedly said Selva Kumar should not be allowed to move around freely in society as he was still considered "a person of high risk".

"He is a walking time bomb. An offender like him compares to none," Sundramoorthy told an online portal.

On Wednesday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said Selva Kumar, who was convicted of sexually assaulting dozens of women in Toronto, Canada, would be closely monitored once he enters Malaysian soil.

Khalid said Selva Kumar would be monitored based on his criminal records and through the existing jurisdiction and authority.

Little is known about Selva Kumar as a person except what came out in court when his victims testified.

Almost nobody remembers him at the George Brown College, which he attended in Canada. But that is consistent with his quiet and unassuming behaviour.

Even in Malaysia, many of his schoolmates do not remember much about him. However, a prefect from the school he attended in Penang recalled Selva Kumar as being disruptive and argumentative.

"He gave the prefects a hard time," he said, adding that he was open to giving the man a chance.

Thomson, who with his partner Peter Duggan interviewed 500 women in the investigations that led to Selva Kumar's conviction, described him as a "psychopath" and "manipulator".

Selva Kumar's Canada parole officer cited previous clinical impressions indicating that Selva Kumar was "high risk for general, violent and sexual recidivism".

The report also stated that he "continues to demonstrate a lack of insight or remorse".

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