Saturday, May 05, 2007

Karpal, King Solomon and Raimah

Karpal Singh would have us believe that P. Marimuthu and Raimah Bibi received Solomon’s justice (Malaysiakini). Nevertheless, it's a commendable thing to do what Karpal has done. I can see where he’s coming from, but I happen to think the comparison with Solomon is faulty. We’re not all literate in things of the Bible, so here’s a simple lesson:

According to the Bible, King Solomon was considered the greatest of Israel’s kings. His wisdom was legendary (so was his fondness for women – he kept a harem of hundreds of wives and concubines – which wasn’t at all wise, and as the Bible tells it, led to his downfall and ended his empire). Solomon’s wisdom was exemplified in the story of two prostitutes who both claimed to be the mother of the same baby (1 Kings 3:16-28).

So who’s the biological mother? Understand that this was way, way before DNA testing became di rigeur in paternity or maternity suits. As the story goes, Solomon cleverly suggested cutting the child in half so each mother could have one half of the child.

The first woman filled with compassion cried out to the king, "Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!"

But the other woman agreed, saying, “Neither you nor I shall have the child. Cut him in two.”

It was these opposite reactions that led Solomon to rule in favour of the first woman. Justice was served, a scam was exposed, and a child was returned to her rightful mother.

Perhaps it could be said that Raimah Bibi gave in under duress; her back was against the wall, and so chose to give up her children to spare their lives from an oppressive fate. In this – and only this - is Raimah’s sacrifice comparable to to the first woman in the biblical tale.

A compromise that separates a mother from her biological children, dissolves her common law marriage union, denies a woman the love of her husband, splits a home in two, leaves her to fend for herself, simply drives a stake into a mother’s heart. This is not “Solomon’s justice.” The second woman won.

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