Shukri’s death an eye-opener to plight of the common man, says Mujahid

* EDITOR’S NOTE: This report is a correction of a previous report, “Shukri’s suicide a sacrifice for Malaysia”, which contained inaccuracies and words mistakenly attributed to Mujahid Yusof Rawa. FMT would like to apologise for the error.

BUTTERWORTH: The late Shukri Saad, a trader who committed suicide after being prosecuted for selling contraband cigarettes, had only wanted to highlight the plight of regular, hardworking Malaysians, attendees at a forum held in his memory were told yesterday.

Penang Amanah chief Mujahid Yusof Rawa said Shukri’s “sacrifice for Malaysia” had opened the eyes of Malaysians to the sufferings of commoners in the country.

Mujahid likened Shukri to Mohamed Bouazizi, whose act of setting himself on fire over mistreatment by local authorities was considered the spark to the Tunisian Revolution which later spread to several Arab countries in what has come to be known as the Arab Spring.

“This man is just like Shukri. He was merely selling fruits for a living but the government and police often targeted him for puny mistakes. And this is not something you can go to Bersih for an answer. The man was stressed,” Mujahid told some 100 people at a forum in memory of Shukri last night.

The programme, “Biar Aku Berkorban Untuk Malaysia”, was attended by among others, former Penang deputy chief minister Shariff Omar, Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin and Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari.

Mujahid said Shukri was not a prominent citizen, but a commoner trying to make ends meet like everyone else.
“Although he has done a despicable thing by taking his own life, that is between him and Allah. I hope Allah will forgive him for his sins.

“But more importantly, he has said something even politicians cannot say: ‘I will sacrifice for Malaysia’. This very statement has caused Malaysians to think about the atrocities of the government,” he added.
Shukri, from Tasek Gelugor, Butterworth, had written a bitter suicide note on Facebook before leaping off the Second Penang Bridge on Oct 26.

He said he had decided to take his own life after the Customs Department took him to court for selling RM360 worth of “cheap cigarettes”, an offence that could have seen him jailed.
Shukri also condemned the government and the authorities for making him pay “thousands of ringgit” in bail and fines.

Mujahid said Shukri’s act was a classic case of government enforcement agencies targeting regular folk for crimes that could actually be classified as misdemeanours.

“It appears that when petty thievery occurs, people scream out loud. When the poor steal, there is immediate prosecution. But when the rich steal, no one raises an eyebrow. At times they are even let go!

“Of course, we are not condoning Shukri’s misdeeds, but the issue here is: is it fair?” he asked.