Commentary on a news report about a teacher in Hulu Langat, Selangor conned of RM 450.00 when an unknown man approached to sell her a mobile phone and laptop for the price of RM 900.00.

On 11 July 2007, the Malay Mail reported a story about Julializa Abdul Manaf, a 29 year old teacher-cum-counsellor in Bukit Beruntung, Rawang who was conned by a man in his 40s. She claimed that he had approached her during lunch to complain about his daughter being bullied by her classmates. He must have given her a name of his daughter because Julializa said, ‘I did not suspect anything as the student he mentioned existed. She is in my Civic classes, and so I listened to his grouses.’ Nothing seemed particularly out of place.

However, she then explains, ‘As I was taking notes on what he said, the man introduced himself as a Customs officer and told me that there would be an auction soon.’ She claimed that he had offered her a laptop and cellphone for RM 900.00, ‘an offer she thought she shouldn’t miss.’ ‘I was genuinely interested as I had thought of buying the items for my husband who is a trader.’ The man naturally asked for a deposit from her and as she only had RM 450 at the time, she handed that over with a promise to deliver the other half an hour later.

An offer of RM 900 for a laptop and a cellphone can mean one of two things. The first is that you are going to get a 7kg laptop with a 9? passive TFT screen with a 5.25? drive and a non-coloured mobile phone which can double up as a brick, door stopper or paperweight i.e. crap. If you aren’t getting that then it is a deal too good to believe. Since it is unlikely that Julializa would part with RM 900 for essentially two technologically advanced paperweights clearly she thought she was getting in on one of those mythical deals.

She also appears not to have noticed the irregularity of the entire transaction.

Firstly, she found nothing unusual about how the man’s initial interest about his ‘daughter’ being bullied quickly switched to offering her a fantastic deal on the laptop and mobile phone. So much for her concern for the school students. Perhaps she was so genuinely interested in getting those items for her husband that she clear forgot about her responsibilities duties as a teacher.

Secondly, she did not seem to think it wrong to purchase those items that were the subject of an upcoming auction and thereby circumventing that process. Or that there was a Customs government officer from the Immigrant Department of Malaysia offering her such a deal. Or that he was hanging around the school during lunch hours complaining about his daughter while simultaneously offering such great deals.

Thirdly, usually people verify someone’s credibility before a purchase, but Julializa here appears to be a bit backwards. No, I don’t mean she’s as stupid is as stupid does. Just that she did it the other way around. Nothing wrong with that. Our government does it all the time.

She earlier said that, ‘The man also mentioned that two of her colleagues had bought the items recently. I then attended a meeting and asked the two colleagues about the offer. They denied knowing the man and had never bought laptops and cellphones cheaply from anyone.’ But she only did this after she handed over the money. I am not sure what subject she teaches but I am certain it is not common sense. Only after that conversation did she then check with the student whose name the man gave and ‘rushed to the guardhouse but she was too late.’ Of course it was. Only a silly conman would hang about the scene of crime.

After discovering her foolishness, she naturally made her way to lodge a police report about the incident. She no doubt left out her own moral culpability and attempted illegality out of it. ‘Police sources said the man had conned several other teaches in Hulu Selangor using the same modus operandi.’ No doubt. No doubt. I would find it hard to believe that there was only one greedy person in the entirety of Hulu Selangor.

But it is instances like this, when the victims own morality or ethicality is as suspect as the perpetrator, that make me question whether that man is guilty of anything other than teaching these teachers a lesson in greed and common sense. Sure he may have told them a complete lie but Julializa, like the other teachers, were just as ready to enter an illegal deal to subvert that alleged auction. They immediately forked out that money without doing any verifications. So they too would have committed an offence if what the man said was true.

Should that man be caught, charged and convicted, it would not be so much for cheating, as for revealing the greed and corrupt nature of some of teachers in the Hulu Selangor area.

Fahri Azzat practices the dark arts of the law. Although he enjoys writing and reading, he doesn't enjoy writing his own little biographies of himself. Like this one. He wished somebody else would do it...