I originally put this on my blog on 8 October. I’m putting it up again, given the widespread interest that his murder continues to generate and the developments since. Kevin paid the ultimate price for his convictions, but I firmly believe his death won’t have been in vain.
This is something I wrote for the Herald to mark the funeral of Kevin Morais on 3 October.
This weekend, we pause to reflect on the funeral of deputy public prosecutor Anthony Kevin Morais, who was abducted and then believed to have been cruelly slain.
Many did not know Kevin in life, but in death, the entire nation came to know and appreciate this unassuming man who paid the ultimate price in the crusade against corruption.
Kevin was last seen on September 4, and what was believed to be the remains of his body were found on September 16.
The scripture readings for Sunday, September 14, two days before the gruesome discovery, carry
a striking message for us.
Recall that Kevin was abducted in the middle of a busy road; he was bundled into a car without much obvious resistance.
An excerpt from the First reading from Isaiah chapter 50:
5 Lord Yahweh has opened my ear and I have not resisted, I have not turned away.
6 I have offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; I have not turned my face away from insult and spitting.
7 Lord Yahweh comes to my help, this is why insult has not touched me, this is why I have set my face like flint and know that I shall not be put to shame.
8 He who grants me saving justice is near! Who will bring a case against me? Let us appear in court together! Who has a case against me? Let him approach me!
Kevin may have suffered at the hands of those men, but their words and action have left his name unscathed. If anything, he is, in death, more honoured and recognised for his integrity than in life. No insult has tarnished his name.
The responsorial psalm for that Sunday was from Psalms 116. An excerpt below:
3 The bonds of death were all round me, the snares of Sheol held me fast; distress and anguish held me in their grip,
4 I called on the name of Yahweh. Deliver me, Yahweh, I beg you.
5 Yahweh is merciful and upright, our God is tenderness.
6 Yahweh looks after the simple, when I was brought low he gave me strength.
8 He has rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.
9 I shall pass my life in the presence of Yahweh, in the land of the living.
Yes, the bonds of death were all round Kevin during his ordeal, but today, Kevin lives in the Lord’s presence. The effects of the price he paid can be seen all around us. An entire nation was stunned and awakened to the menace of corruption. Whereas previously corruption was seen as a disease we had to live with, today, there is a fresh realisation that we cannot be fully alive, fully human as long as we have the tentacles of corruption throttling us and choking the vitality of our nation.
In the second reading from James chapter 2, we read the following verses:
17 In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead.
18 But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.
Kevin showed us through his integrity and his commitment to justice what it means to stand up for the truth in the face of real dangers in our path.
Now his death challenges all of us to live up to our faith by displaying a firm commitment to the cause of truth and justice no matter what the personal cost.
In the Gospel for that day from Mark chapter 8, Jesus reminds us that he was “destined to suffer grievously, and to be rejected … and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again”.
34 He called the people and his disciples to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.
35 Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
Kevin lost his life in his work, and his gruesome murder reminds us that the cost of following our convictions could lead us to places we would rather not go. Perhaps in some strange way, his shocking death will awaken us from our stupor. Perhaps it will remind us that if we are to be true to our faith, we should be compelled to act and carry on anyway, no matter what the price, in the service of the kingdom.
Tributes have been pouring in for Kevin from his colleagues and peers. Even the Attorney General’s Chambers has honoured him by naming a moot court after him.
Solicitor General Azailiza Mohd Ahad told us clearly why we should honour Kevin: “Just as he was gentle and kind among friends, Kevin was as fierce and determined in carrying out his duties. He was a true believer in justice, fairness and fair play.
“He was always the epitome of good over evil, of light overcoming darkness, and this remains true, even in death. One should never be deceived by Kevin’s demeanour for he was, in fact, a “giant” amongst us in the legal fraternity. ”
Now, it is left to all those of us who honour Kevin, to ensure our actions speak more eloquently than words.
Here are a few simple ways the authorities and all of us can honour Kevin and carry on his legacy:
- Cease the crackdown of opposition politicians, activists and dissidents. This year alone, over 300 people have been probed, arrested or charged, many of them for speaking up or actiing according to their conscience. Surely, this is not what Kevin stood for in his crusade for justice.
- Take another look at all those cases of sudden deaths, whether high-profile or not.
- Continue the investigations into all major corruption cases, without fear or favour. May a thousand Kevins rise to continue the fight against corruption.
- Uphold the cause of truth and justice and freedom and shun corruption, money politics and abuse of power in everything we do, no matter what the personal cost.
- Live with integrity and leave a shining legacy for those who come after us.