I was sitting inside the courthouse. A policeman appeared at the doorway and shouted some kind of order. Then, he pulled in a group of about eight to ten prisoners, all handcuffed to one another. They struggled into the courthouse, knocking into each other. Unable to balance themselves, some of them almost fell down and risked pulling the whole group to the ground.


The policeman barked out another order, and the group of prisoners sat on the floor in a single row. They looked filthy and unsightly. The courthouse was crowded. People continuously walked past this group of prisoners without noticing them, much less showing them any compassion.


I decided to walk around to look for my lawyer, and had to pass this group of prisoners sitting on the floor. As I walked past, I nodded at them out of trained social etiquette. As I nodded, I smiled weakly. I thought they looked stunned.


Later, I walked back to the place where I sat earlier. Once again, I had to pass the group of prisoners who were still sitting on the floor, handcuffed to one another. As I approached, they did something incredibly unexpected. All of them, one following the other, pulled in their legs so that I had more walking space in front of them. This time I was the one who was stunned.


As I walked past, I nodded, smiled more broadly and said, "Terima kasih" the Malay word for "Thank you".


I found a seat and sat down, but my mind was on the group of prisoners:

  • Who has taught them good manners?
  • Who has taught them to respect a lady?
  • What has led them to commit crimes?
  • What kind of future do they have?