And so I woke up at 4.30am last night - actually, I woke up at 2am and stayed awake till 4.30am - and then went to Melaka for my trial.
Last year, on March 10, I was caught smoking outside Dataran Pahlawan in Melaka. I did not know that the whole of Melaka is now a no-smoking zone, but apparently it was since 2007.
I asked the plain-clothed Health Inquisitors who ambushed me back then, where can I smoke? They said all covered spaces - and most non-covered ones - are no-smoking areas. Given the seriousness of the offence, I bet that includes everyone's homes as well. But I'm just being bitter. I am sure everyone can smoke in their own homes. I am sure this just affects all PUBLIC places, including roads, streets, whatever.
So people who go to Melaka, especially Singaporeans , please remember - don't smoke at all. If you do, they will haul your ass up to court! Melaka is a no-smoking zone and all Singaporeans must adhere to the rules of the land. This is not Singapore, where everyone can smoke everywhere, with no penalty from the law. This is Melaka, man! Where they don't even sell cigarettes in normal shops. Oh... wait? They do? Nevermind. I am here not to debate a law, but to tell you of my second experience in court after facing a farce that was my PTPTN hearing in 2009 or something.
When I went to the magistrate court in Kuantan for my PTPTN hearing, they did not allow me to speak at all, just nod yes or no to one question. Here, in Melaka, I must give plaudits to the court for allowing all of the accused a chance to talk.
After hearing some of the other accused in similar predicaments - they were also caught smoking - trying to attack the law or the enforcement of that law, as well as the magistrate condemning cigarettes as 'Satan's piss on herbs' I stepped up and entered a plea of guilty straight off the bat.
And remember, this is for an offence - smoking - that carries with it a fine of up to RM10,000 or jail up to 2 years. Even raping an underaged girl will net you less severe punishment, if you bowl really well.
"Would you like to plead for leniency?"
"I regret my actions," I began. "In fact, five weeks ago, I have quit smoking." That caught the attention of the court. I was channeling Mark Renton from Trainspotting, but all I said was true. I am on e-cigarettes, trying to quit smoking for good since a few weeks ago.
"With the help of the court, I will conquer this terrible affliction!"
Perhaps moved by my plight or my plea - all of it authentic and real - the court then decided to slap me with a RM200 fine or one day jail. This is significant, because the original compound - had I paid two weeks after getting a summons last year - was RM300.
I thought of going to jail, but these days I just want no more drama. I even rearranged my life so there would be no more drama, discarding any and all characters who gave and will give me any more bullshit and stupidity. Plus, RM200, even though not a paltry sum, is adequate.
Basically, I got a RM100 discount. However, subtract the toll from KL (Around RM40++ both ways), the fuel (RM50) and breakfast (RM20 or so), plus taking the day off, it would have made better financial sense to have paid the compound last year.
Everyone at the magistrate court was surprisingly pleasant and helpful. Though I disagree with what Ali Rustam has done and how Melaka is now smoke-free, I have no complaints with how the justice system worked in my case.
Sure, I am no child-rapist who has a bright future, to be let off the hook, but I believe the fine was adequate for such a small infringement.
As a favour to the state of Melaka and Ali Rustam, I will remind all of you that you shouldn't smoke at all in Melaka. You might get away with a few packs of cigarettes, but they will catch you with one stick and then it's a fucking hassle. Smokers, stay away from Melaka. They want none of our kind gracing their city.
I know that as long as I can avoid Melaka, I will.