Posts Tagged ‘ISA’

Uthaya 500 days in ISA

April 26th, 2009
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Letter from Uthayakumar on the 500th day of his detention (published in Malaysiakini). Few points interest me:

1. I didn’t know he has children.

2. He clarifies he is not a Mahatma Gandhi or Mandela.

3. He asks the makkal to vote against UMNO/BN in 2013.

4. His foot has healed (?)

The gist of the letter is similar to his earlier messages, so I won’t elaborate on that. Its a reminder to the makkal: DON’T FORGET.

My 500th day under ISA
P Uthayakumar | Apr 26, 09 7:55am
Today April 26, 2009, marks my 500th day under Umno’s captivity without being charged, tried or found guilty in a court of law. I suppose this is ‘justice’ for me, an Indian ethnic minority and human rights lawyer of 18 years.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s continued unilateral decree is that I be made to serve a jail sentence of two years and indefinitely thereafter under his regime. There are prisoners here at Kemta Kamunting, Taiping, serving their eighth year of their ISA sentences.

But I have no regrets. I know in my heart that every day of my imprisonment will liberate and open up a thousand new minds against Umno’s atrocities and injustices in their marginalisation, discrimination, suppression, oppression and the exclusion of Indians from the mainstream of national development in Malaysia.

Today, I have grown 500 days older. Today, I have lost 500 days of my precious freedom. Today, it is 500 days since I shaved my beard or combed my hair to protest my ISA detention. Today, it is 500 days since I have been made to wear the very same two pairs of dark blue baggy pants and white restaurant waiter-like prison uniform.

My left foot

On Jan 31, 2009, I had accidently injured the last toe of my left foot, which had gotten worse because of my long standing diabetic condition. From day one of my injury, I had repeatedly asked to be treated at the Gleneagles private hospital as I no longer have confidence in the independence of government-service doctors, which I believe had been compromised by the Home Ministry and its Special Branch police officers.

Under protest, I agreed to be treated at a government hospital on Feb 3, 2009. As I had anticipated, the doctor refused to admit me despite my swollen leg and blackening left foot condition. The doctor told me there were no hospital beds and neither did she want to refer me to an orthopedic surgeon or a consultant physician, as well as a cardiologist to treat my silent heart attack during my ISA detention.

No cast was put on my leg. No medication was prescribed. This doctor told me that my leg would heal on its own. My suspicion was confirmed when the doctor, who had written my medical notes in a police file, gave it back to the police officers accompanying me.

By the second week, my leg got even worse and despite repeated pleas, the prison authorities refused to take me even to a government hospital, which I agreed to go under protest. I had lodged four police reports but again zero action was taken. Even my statement was not recorded.

The worst case scenario ran across my mind. I may lose my left foot. For the first time, I realised that as a lawyer, I could not even save myself. There was nothing I could do, I was a prisoner.

But even then, I had thought to myself that should the worst happen, I would put on a prosthesis (artificial leg) and keep walking. I feel that at the end of the day, it was the prayers held at scores of Hindu temples nationwide by supporters of Makkal Sakthi that had actually saved my leg and ensure my well-being in prison.

Surviving on bread and biscuits

On March 22, 2009, I found pieces of beef in the chicken sambal served to me. Mohamad, a Pakistani national, and Abdul Sarjon, a Sri Lankan national, and fellow detainees who worked at the prison kitchen confirmed that chicken and beef were cooked in the same pot after which the chicken was scooped out and served.

I immediately lodged a police report. But again nothing happened as usual. But had it been the other way round – the victimisation a Malay Muslim – a different set of rules would be applied by Umno.

But I suppose this is all part and parcel of PM Najib’s One Malaysia policy. One Malaysia, two systems. Since that day, I have refused to consume cooked food from the prison kitchen in protest against the violation of my religious rights in contravention of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. As a Hindu, I do not consume beef. I am now surviving basically on bread and biscuits.

Throughout these 500 days, there was never a single day that I ever regretted starting and spearheading this struggle. I believed in justice, including for the minority ethnic Indians, in Malaysia.

In these 500 days, I have refused to meet any of the Special Branch officers who came to meet detainees once in every two to three months to “plead for my release”. I have done no wrong and I am not prepared to beg for my freedom. I had earlier also refused to meet Umno’s home minister, knowing fully well that my release from prison is in his hands, for the very same reason.

My biggest satisfaction and what keeps me going in prison is the true and sincere spirit of the struggle through Hindraf’s Makkal Sakthi.

It moved me to see thousands of Hindraf supporters who had braved FRU’s tear gas and water cannons, who were roughed up and beaten by the police, arrested, handcuffed, thrown into jail, prosecuted in court and bravely standing up in the dock to face possible jail sentences, losing their jobs, and with their wife and children suffering.

All these sacrifices, just for a public cause to put to an end to Umno’s racism, religious extremism and exclusion of the Indians from the mainstream of national development. To all of you, I salute you and I am proud of you. Makkal Sakthi Valga.

I miss my freedom

I am suffering from this imprisonment daily. I miss my freedom. I miss my family, my wife and children.

But I am prepared for the worst, even if it means another 500 days or more of imprisonment. I will do this just for the cause of Hindraf. Umno can imprison me but they cannot imprison the forces of Hindraf’s Makkal Sakthi.

Makkal Sakthi was the tipping point in the March 8, 2008 general elections. It was the triggering factor which resulted in Umno/BN losing two-thirds majority in Parliament as well as political power in four west-coast states.

Makkal Sakthi once again showed its prowess at the Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang by-elections. I never, even in my wildest dream, thought I would see Makkal Sakthi forces to this extent in my lifetime.

I am no Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, but Umno has to understand and accept that it was the genuine grievances of the people – the pent-up pain and suffering, misery and heartache – that brought about the unprecedented 100,000-strong Hindraf rally on Nov 25, 2007.

Please be patient. Umno will not change, but we will change Umno in the 2012/2013 general elections. We will put an end to Umno’s bully tactics and its rule by fear. We have waited 52 long years.

Please be patient. In another three or four years, there would hopefully be a new beginning, a new political structure and a Malaysia with equality and equal opportunities, including for the Indians. A Malaysia where the Indians would be a part of the mainstream in national development.

Every day and every moment of my imprisonment, my thoughts and prayers are with Makkal Sakthi. I have plans for our further struggle. Please pray for my freedom, and for Umno’s end of its rule so that justice will finally prevail.

Umno may have punished me with this 500 days of imprisonment but you, the Makkal Sakthi, will in turn punished Umno/BN where it hurts them most – the ballot box.

God bless.

P Uthayakumar
Kamunting Detention Camp, Perak

Questions on the release of ISA detainees

April 5th, 2009
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All this while, I thought its the Home Minister who can sign the detention order and release them. So, its a bit surprising that PM Najib made the announcement and it takes another two days (detainees will exit on Sunday) for the document to be prepared. Not to mention that its very impropable that 13 people can be rehabilitated at the same time. And what happened to the advisory panel/board that’s suppose to meet every 6 month to evaluate a detainees case? Was the board convened in the last two days? Or was its previous report taken into consideration, thus the release of the detainees? Syed Hamid readily admits that it was the new PM’s decision. So is it valid?

More worrying was this statement by him (Syed Hamid):

He (Najib) has put the interest of the nation above self,’’ he said.

This doesn’t seem right to me as it implies that the decision to put those people in detention in the first place may be due to self-interest! Well, at least that’s what I understand.

Something else is also not fully revealed – a number of them who be subjected to a conditional release, says Syed Hamid Albar.

The sudden announcement caught everyone off, so I can safely presume that communication channel between the relevant people is suspect.

Let’s see what Ganapatirao’s wife says:

Ganabatirau’s wife, B. Vuvaneswary, said family members of ISA detainees should be informed when they would be released to facilitate their presence at the Kamunting Detention Centre.

The teacher, who had arrived at the centre at about 7.30am Saturday, told Bernama when contacted at 5.20pm that she was saddened by the statement by InspectorGeneral of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan Saturday that the detainees, including her husband, would only be released Sunday after they had completed the documentation process.

“I am said that until now the authorities had not contacted me on the status of my husband’s release,” she said.

She lamented that the absence of communication from the authorities had put her family in a difficult situation, adding that she had travelled from Shah Alam at 3am today thinking that her husband would be released Saturday. Vuvaneswary, who was putting up at a relative’s house in Sungai Petani, Kedah, said she would be at the detention centre at 8am tomorrow but wondered whether her husband would be released at the centre or at Bukit Aman in Kuala Lumpur.

“I hope the authorities can provide information on the release of the detainees tomorrow,” she said.

She hopes that the others will be released as well. Meanwhile, Ganabatirau’s brother Raidu said the entire family was thankful to Najib for allowing him to return to his family. He also mentioned that the other 3 should be released as well. Same with the people interviewed by Minnal FM news team. All those interviewed in Bukit Selambau expressed happiness and at the same time expressed hope that the other 3 will be release BEFORE the elections.

Meanwhile, Kengadharan’s wife Dr M. Kalaivani said she was caught by surprise by the news because she did not watch Najib’s announcement on television.

When informed that her husband was to be released, Dr Kalaivani said she would be rushing off to the Kamunting Detention Centre first thing in the morning.

“I dont know what to say! I am excited and am floating on cloud nine. I can finally bring him back home,” exclaimed Dr Kalaivani, who thanked Najib for freeing her husband, adding that their three-year-old son Pavan was also excited to be reunited with his father.

The cops are unsure as well? :

When approached by reporters, a camp warden said he had not received any directive to release the 13 people.

Perak CPO Deputy Comm Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah, when contacted, said the matter was being handled by the police headquarters in Bukit Aman.

“I have not received any instructions yet,” he said.

MIC, of course are relieved that the few letters Samy wrote to ex-PM Badawi was useful. They can now claim to have secured the release of 2 of the 5 detainees.

The MIC hopes the Government will release the other three Hindu Rights Action Front members under Internal Security Act detention in addition to the two announced, party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said.  “We thank the Government and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for releasing two ISA detainees associated with the banned Hindraf movement,” he said.  Samy Vellu said the MIC was happy that the Government had agreed with the party’s request to release the Hindraf members. “I hope they will release the rest of them quickly as it will make the Indian community happy,” he said.

PM Najib said the move to release the detainees is proof that the government is not repressive and that the government has the best interest of the people at heart. For him, its not a populist move:

“If we don’t release them, they will say the government is repressive. If we release them, they will say we are populist. “So which is which?” he said to reporters during a press conference at his Sri Satria residence on Saturday.

Unfortunately, it surely looks like one. Take if from the expert himself – Mahathir, who in his own sly way, said this:

“I think it is a good move. I don’t know if you remember, but when I became Prime Minister I released 21 people who were held under ISA.

“So I thought it was good for me, so it must be good for Najib too,” Dr Mahathir said.

Hmm.. besides highlighting the copycat move, it also cements the notion that its a “good” thing to do, i.e. populist.

Bottomline is, if one can free them just like that, how long does it take to put someone in there first? Are these people actually guilty or  merely victims? Scary indeed.

Najib announces release of 13 ISA detainees!

April 3rd, 2009
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A masterstroke indeed. No names given by new Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in his speech other than mentioning that 13 ISA detainees will be released with immediate effect.

Indian community will be praying hard that it includes the HINDRAF 5.  The opposition will lose some topic to talk about if Uthaya and friends are out.

Syed Hamid mentioned 2 HINDRAF guys released – Ganapatirao and another name I couldn’t hear properly. I think its Gangadharan. Yup, confirmed by the Star just now.

Explosive interview with Kalaivanar

April 2nd, 2009
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This is a must-watch interview. Kalaivanar (ex-PKR) brings out some pertinent points. I also wonder – how many politicians from either side actually visited the ISA detainees? Can we imagine top politicians dropping by Kamunting to visit Uthaya and co?

2. Kerajaan PAS or Kerajaan Pakatan in Kedah?

3. Manikumar already pre-choosen?

4. Promised deputy speaker, senatorship etc?

Waytha free to return but…

March 12th, 2009
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Since Waytha was diagnosed with heart-related problem (rare heart condition known as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), an inherited heart muscle disorder where damaged heart muscle is gradually replaced by scar tissue and fat. A recognised cause of sudden death in the young, the condition may cause abnormal electrical heart rhythms and weakening of the pumping action of the heart), he has expressed his intention to return to Malaysia (“tanah tumpah darahku” – place of birth, I guess) to be with his family while he get more treatment and recovers. 2 days ago, the proposed surgery has been postponed to today due to his deteriorating health.

MCPX

He has since been quarantined at a specialist heart centre on a 48-hour observational period, after which doctors will decide on whether or not to carry out the operation to place an implant in his heart. He had been advised that he would run the risk of complications such as cardiac arrest and puncture of the heart should the surgery proceed.

There some issues regarding the status of Waytha’s passport. Waytha said that his passport was revoked (and I got a comment posting the content of a memo supposedly ordering the revocation – but its unverified). This is rebutted by Syed Hamid who said that Waytha has returned his passport to the Malaysian High Commission in London and is travelling with British travel documents (issued by the British government so that he can move around). I still remember the home minister saying that the passport had expired and now saying its been returned to the High Commission. In fact, he was quoted in NST as saying “We have just sent his new passport to the Malaysian High Commission office in London but he has yet to collect it.” Which is which now? Our minister also goes off-tangent by saying that Waytha is still a citizen. Of course he’s still a Malaysian citizen. The issue is with is travel documents, not citizenship.

There were few “guarantees” that HINDRAF wanted from the government in order to ensure Waytha’s safe passage back and subsequent freedom from persecution. However, I reiterate that its wishful thinking. Its not possible for Home Minister Syed Hamid to offer any sort of concession, nor can his words be believed by Waytha’s team. The Home Minister gave a grim reminder (or warning):

Asked today at the Parliament lobby if action would be taken against Waythamorrthy if he returns, Syed Hamid declined to give a direct answer.

“Everyone is subject to the law… everyone has to face the consequence,” was all he would say.

So, Waytha is free to return but… he’ll be sent to Kamunting under ISA as it was already mentioned before. That’s what I think will happen.