Law abiding citizen

I have promised a reader, avatar, that I will write something on the movie Avatar. But on checking the net, there are already so many good reviews of the show, so I thought instead i will write something on another show ” A law abiding citizen”.

This is also dedicated to reader ‘Leong’ who gave us the link to an article on a late Federal court judge who passed away just a few days ago. I would not want to pass any judgement on this person, since by doing so , invariably I will cross the line over to politics. I will touch on the social responsibility of those trained in law to answer to their own conscience.

For those who have yet to see avatar, it is worth paying $18 to see the 3 D version, a very nice show with good meaning too.(It has gone past  the US  1 billion dollar box office mark world wide and still counting)

” Law abiding citizen’ is about a show where justice , as human kinds know it and long for it, is denied. When justice is denied ,  serious consequences can happen, and in this show, did happen.

The show is about an engineer, Clyde Sheldon, who lost both is wife and his young daughter during a ‘break in’ by 2 guys. The 2 guys were subsequently caught, but the main criminal Darby who killed the wife and the daughter got a very good lawyer who bargained and traded with the prosecutor  in charge of the case, Nick, that he would agree to a lesser charge and be jailed for a few years instead of being charged for murder.

Nick agreed to the bargain, in order to maintain his own high conviction rate of 99%, and disregard Clyde’s plea for justice. SO while the lesser criminal, Ames, was sentenced to death by injection, the main guy Darby was only convicted for 3 years.

Nick has the cheek to tell the victim, Clyde , that  “it is not what we know but what can be proven in court”, and claimed that he agreed to the bargain because he was not sure that he could convict Darby for murder. He claimed that this is how justice works.

Ten years late, Clyde took justice into his own hand, and plotted to kill successfully the main criminal Darby (who died a very gruesome death), and went into jail for that.

Even in jail, he successfully carried out executions of those involved in the case. So the DA, the lawyer, the judge and all those who are involved in denying justice to him,  except Nick, were killed by Clyde through very ingenious way ( I would not go into the details; it is  worth buying a DVD to watch yourself).

In the end, Nick confronted Clyde in prison and took law into his own hand to kill Clyde, after admitting that he would no longer made deals with murderer  (finally seeing the light,perhaps).

This show is about Justice denied.

Denying justice to aggrieved parties can be very dangerous. Clyde said that had Nick tried to convict Darby for murder and failed , he would understand; but he could not understand why the need to bargain trade with a real murderer whom he saw with is own eyes killing his wife and daughter.

The little men like you and me , if something happens to us, for example , robbery and character assassination, the only justice that we can seek is through the channel of justice as we know it — get a lawyer, go to court and appear before the judges.

Lawyers therefore play a very important role. If they know a person is guilty and yet they choose to defend him , then it is not only against the law of justice, but probably against their own conscience as well.

I believe that in these cases, there will probably be a higher law which is totally just and which will be dispensed once we go back and face our creator.


25 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. CYC
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 15:29:31

    Its wonderful to see you switch to more social issue instead of pure political discussion.

    Hopefully 2010 will be a year we could see more heart touching moment and less nature disaster.


  2. Dr Hsu
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 15:43:08


    Thanks and thank you for the continued support despite the change. I Thank those others who continue to read this blog despite the change.



  3. klm
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 16:53:48

    The justice system is broken. It is not working. Maybe it is time to go back to the an eye for an eye justice. If crime rate do not come down and soon, this will happen.


  4. disgusted
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 17:32:24

    How could Man, being imperfect churns out “perfect” and “just” laws. The only perfect and natural just laws is “karma” or divine laws. But I must quantify that I am referring to “operative” divine laws that is happening naturally and not those written and interpreted again by Man which in the process become distorted and abuse again.

    Divine laws need not be printed, propagated and advertised. It just operates and in force.

    No matter how high a man can fly and how deep he buries himself, there is no escape from karma law. Regardless he owns the world or without a penny to his name. All are just and fair under this law.

    The “name” is also not important. A piece of shit you call “rose” still stinks to high heavens, anyway.


  5. clearwater
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 17:43:21

    The court lawyer will tell you his responsibility is not to determine his client’s guilt, that is up to the jury/judge to decide after a fair trial. He does not moralize, he does not dispense justice or decide what is right or wrong. He leaves his conscience at home. The judicial system decides winners and losers, not the legal eagles. Sometimes justice is served, sometimes not. The lawyer is merely duty bound to defend his client to the best of his ability.


  6. disgusted
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 17:45:42

    Sorry, I almost forgot about an illustration about making laws, yes, man-made laws. A story…..

    “Once upon a time, a meditation master was conducting a mediation class. One day the master entered the class with a belly full of “gas”.

    He could not hold on to the “gas” inside his stomach. So what did he do?

    He said, “Fellow monks, now I want to teach you the art of simple everyday meditation.

    After the master sat down and begin his instruction, he couldn’t hold on and “farted” loudly.

    The student monks took for granted that they must fart before commencing their meditating.

    Soon time passed by. The next generation of monks decided to make it a “law” to fart before they concentrate on their mediation.

    So the simple story tells that that man-made laws always “stinks”.

    There are just “too many” stupid laws and we are born in chains.

    Do we have justice? A minister visited a particular country and asked his host official, “How come your country has a Railway Minister when there is no railway in your country?”

    The host officer obviously taken aback by the abrupt question, asked back his visitor, “How come you have a Law Minister when there is no justice in your country.”

    no prize for right guessing.


  7. Dr Hsu
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 18:05:05


    I love to look at abstract art. I love Piccaso. You can never tell what he meant by his drawing.

    The crows look at the painting, they think it is about the crows.

    The doves look at the painting, they think it is about doves.

    You can look from left to right or top to down or down to top, you interpret your own meaning..

    That is why abstract arts by Piccaso is so valuable. everyone becomes an interpreter of arts.


  8. Dr Hsu
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 18:07:14


    To the buddhists, perhaps karma is the creator.. Creator is not necessary something in own image, so universal law can be a creator.


  9. Dr Hsu
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 18:18:04


    Tell you another story painted in my mind…. a story painted on an ABstract Art, and you interpret what it is.

    A Father, who is also a traveller and a all powerful person, travelled all over the world, and created many children in different corners of the world. Each child in one place did not know about the other child in another place.

    In England, his English son called him’ father”. In American, his American child called him ‘daddy”.

    In China, his Chinese daughter called him ‘ Papa”.

    In Indonesia, his Indon son called him ” ayah”.

    After the father died, he left a picture of himself in a big Hall.

    One day, co-incidentally, all the children came to this Hall for tour at the same time. The Chinese said to others, this is my ‘Papa”. The english said ” this is my father” The Indon said ‘this is my Ayah”. They quarreled because each said the other is wrong. They fought until everyone is hurt. Then they sat down, and suddenly,they realise no matter what they called the picture, it is still their father inside.

    Later on they realise, Papa, ayah, father, etc all refer to one and the same ONE. So they all learn to allow others to call the Father by any names, as long as they refer to the Father.


  10. cilipadi
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 18:24:32

    Naughty Dr. Hsu, my Malay friend said, Alahmak!!!

    He had a good laugh, I don’t know why.

    Alahmak father ayah makan cili, Papa Daddy rasa pedas.


  11. Kenny
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 19:35:16

    Dr. Hsu, you said, “Lawyers therefore play a very important role. If they know a person is guilty and yet they choose to defend him , then it is not only against the law of justice, but probably against their own conscience as well.”

    My opinion is that even a guilty person is entitled to representation. Lawyers do not need to believe in their clients’ innocence to represent a client. Karpal Singh has defended many drug pushers and murderers in his career. Of course we believe that if justice is working efficiently, a guilty man will be convicted no matter who is defending him.


  12. Dr Hsu
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 19:49:54

    I think you have a good point there.


  13. Kenny
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 20:06:20

    On another note Clyde in the movie got his revenge but was it worth it? The Chinese have a saying, “If you seek revenge then you dig one grave for your victim and one for yourself”. Clyde was deprived of his own future because he wanted revenge. The 10 years before the final showdown must have been tortured ones.

    Religion teaches us to forgive those who have wronged us but on a deeper purpose we forgive them more for ourselves than to benefit them.

    An example in real life (politics) is Anwar Ibrahim who was humiliated and spent 6 years in jail after a fallout with Mahathir. Any man would have been bitter and vengeful but Anwar preferred to let bygones be bygones. If he had sought revenge he won’t be where he is now.


  14. A true Malaysian
    Jan 04, 2010 @ 20:59:25

    Good points, Kenny. I agree with you fully. I can say your points are in line with Buddha’s teachings, i.e. Dharma but wouldn’t say so for other religions.

    Justin Choo has a very good post, more or less related to your points. The post is about drug traffic convict who appealed to Singapore President for parole against his death sentence.

    I got a fair bit of argument with some commentators there, which I believe, are not Buddhists (even if they are, they don’t understand Dharma). You can read what are the argument all about there.

    My point of argument is very simple. If one claims his God is merciful and compassionate, why not His faithfuls be merciful and compassionate themselves?

    I am not interested to know whether you are a Buddhist, that doesn’t matter to me. What matter is your thoughts. That is good enough at a Buddhist’s point of view. Conversion from a religion to Buddhism is not a true Buddhist works for. Religions are just labels, at least to me.


  15. klm
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 11:27:43

    AtM. God had never been compassionate and merciful. If you read the bible, it is a constant reminder that god is vengeful and jealous.

    As for Buddhism, the teaching is about human behavior and not about god. God do not appear in real Buddhism.


  16. Dr Hsu
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 12:26:45

    Buddhism is an atheist religion. But the word atheist is coined by man. The ultimate law in BUddhism is Karma.. Karma may be God..

    Buddhism preaches tolerance and compassion. Those followers should not be too partisan and should be more magnanimous towards people having the same aim as them , but maybe doing it on a different front.
    To preach one thing but practice another smacks of double standard, and hypocrisy. Buddhism does not encourage hypocricy. And It does not encourage ‘2 tongues’, meanig calling people names and attacking people.

    I do no know much about religions, since it takes more than alife time to really understand religion and not just after reading many texts and attend many lectures. I do not claim to understand even though I have read many sutras, the Heart Sutra, and ‘GinKang Sutra”, and heard my sifu ” Jin Gong” talk about Hua Yan Sutra. It is not about how much you can recite the dos and donts of the religions, but how much you follow the rteachings in its spirits.

    BUt I thought perhaps I have set a fairly good example of talking only about differences in views and not getting personal in anything, would be a good start to learn religion. To be filial, to be good to friends, and even to those whom you opposed thier views. I do not see eye to eye with KTK and argued with him in all meetings, big and small, but I remain cordial to him, because it is nothing personal.

    To me, all religions have the same aims too. So while you are in one religon, do respect the other. Similarly, extend this respect to people who have a different views from you. Religious fanatics resulted from people who cannot accept other people’s viewpoints, other people’s religions..

    SO before we preach something to others, put ourselves in their shoes first.


  17. A true Malaysian
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 13:17:47


    Read again my earlier comment. I never claim that. The ‘faithfuls’ that claim that.

    Another point, like water and oil, religion and politics don’t mix, but politicians mix try to mix them, even though they know water and oil don’t mix.

    We normally read a word from left to right, like what cilipadi said. Maybe politicians like to read right to left. For instance, they like to read the word “GOD” from right to left. That’s why they want to mix religion with politics, maybe.

    There are many likewise examples of politicians. That’s why Dr. Hsu is not a politician as he claims.


  18. observant
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 13:30:29

    I think everybody has good points in their understanding and interpretion of religions but it is the affliliation and association of politics that cloud our minds & emotions. Political aroused emotion and attachment can slightly blind and make us a bit biased and irrational.


  19. klm
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 14:44:48

    AtM. My apology.


  20. CYC
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 14:59:56

    Law of nature is supreme. It works naturally even without u realising. It doesn’t matter if u don’t understand or doubt it. The oriental philosophy always emphasize on coexistence with nature, be in matters related to life, healthcare, and whatever we do.

    So, lets abide to the law of nature which also includes the man made law (since it is a result of complicated interference and compromise of different sets of people possessing different level of intelligence and insight).

    I am not a scholar but it seems all constitutions, religious holy books, and cultural ethics etc were written and passed down by human being who sincerely believe it to be true and just. Hence, it is imperfect in nature and subject to debate and alteration from time to time. Eventually, it may just fade away when it CANNOT CO-EXIST with NATURE (interpreted here as the current demand of society).

    Good and Evil will co exist even though water don’t mix well with water.


  21. disgusted
    Jan 05, 2010 @ 19:20:16

    CYC, you are right, the existence of life on earth is a polarity one, relative.

    Meaning good and evil is the “coin” sharing both sides. One cannot exist without the other but it is different in other dimensions of higher existence. In spiritual planes of existence, only the divine goodness prevails.

    In other words, no corruption, there is no “buying” or “paying bribes” to go there. In fact, when I say “going” there is also not correct.

    The higher state of consciousness in “heavenly” planes, only goodness and compassion is there.

    Water and oil don’t mix….ha….ha…so we were taught that water puts out fire. But not necessary. Ever watch a seabed volcano, bursting fire UNDER THE SEA!!!! Fire burning in water!!!!

    Screw the politicians (sorry, I only mean the MCA ones).


  22. ong
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 06:11:30

    Dr. Hsu writes a brief review about the movie “Law abiding citizen”, with the plot being about a frustrated man who decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family’s killers free. The discussion on his post somehow ended up as one on religion.

    Whenever anyone wants to discuss religion with me, I would suggest to them that we shall discuss religion only after we have completely run out of other topics to discuss. This is because any discussion on religion tends not to have an ending, at least a good one. I always like discussions to have a proper ending. Whatever point of view or ‘facts’ one presents on whatever religion, they can neither be proven either right nor wrong.

    After reading all the comments above I shall maintain the same position.


  23. A true Malaysian
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 09:23:55

    “decides to take justice into his own hands”,

    Should this be the way? If everyone of us disregard laws and decide to take justice into our own hands, what would be happened?

    “Whatever point of view or ‘facts’ one presents on whatever religion, they can neither be proven either right nor wrong. ”

    The “truth” is there, but many take “truth” differently, that’s the problem. This is the reason why some people “decides to take justice into his own hands”. I hope you will not be one of them.

    Truth lies in Nature Law of Karma, many can’t accept this as “truth”.

    Your God maybe compassionate and merciful, but are you?


  24. Dr Hsu
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 13:56:09

    for those who did not get the meaning of this post, which is about Justice being denied,and an unfair judge is a transgressor (and I would go a step further, an unfair public prosecutor is also a transgressor), read the NH Chan’s article in Malaysiakini :

    The retired and learned judge has written without having to do extract arts like myself..

    If as a prosecutor or investigator , you have tried your best but failed to convict a person, people will excuse you… BUt in the case of lack of trying, justice is not only denied, but was seen to be denied, then people will take law into them own hand, correct, correct , correct.


  25. A true Malaysian
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 15:20:44

    There maybe 42 ways to skin a cat, but without conscience, the 42 ways are in doubt, justice does not seems to be done to the cat.

    I pity the future generation of the judge as they inherit his legacy forever.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: