A 64-year old man, Muhammad Resat Ahmad, pleaded guilty on 7 March to stealing earth cables from the Golden Landmark Shopping Centre between February and April 2004, and between July and September 2006.
Resat, had been working at the shopping centre for 23 years when he committed the offences. Collaborating with a colleague, he cut the cable wires in the ceiling with a saw, slit open the cables’ insulation covering, removing the copper wires, and sold them at a metal-scrap shop. They had pocketed a total of $6,000 from the sale.
The prosecution asked for 3 – 4 months jail sentence for Resat. Resat’s lawyer, however, argued for a sentence of less than 3 weeks. He explained that Resat committed the offences under extenuating circumstances. In 2003, Resat’s wife was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy. Resat didn’t have the money for the treatment.
Resat was then drawing a monthly salary of $1,210 and had to also provide for his two school-going children. He was not able to get help from relatives and friends, and was defaulting on his utility bills.
“While (Resat) knew what he was doing was contrary to the law, he could not let his wife’s condition deteriorate,” his lawyer said.
Readers who responded to Today newspaper’s report of the story in their Facebook expressed shock and disappointment that Resat’s pay was so meagre despite working in the same company for over 2 decades.
Others lamented the sad lack of sufficient social safety nets for families such as Resat’s.