by M.Kula Segaran, Deputy Secretary General DAP Malaysia and Perak DAP Secretary
on 13 April 2002
According to article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution it is written that “any person arrested shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a lawyer of his choice”
We had on Friday written/faxed and given notice to the Kamunting Detention Center authorities that on Saturday 13 April 2002 the following lawyers Ngeh Koo Ham M.Kula Segaran and also Dr.Jaya Kumar would like to meet up with all the 6 detainees.
We arrived at the Detention Camp at about 10am. As usual we presented our papers and requested that we be allowed to meet the detainees. We were then told to hold on. A few minutes later a police officer informed us that the Detention camp Authorities have refused to allow us to meet up with the detainees. We asked for the reason for the refusal but the officer declined to give us an answer.
We then requested that we be allowed to speak to the officer in charge of the Kamunting Camp. We were then told that the officer in charge is not available and our numerous attempts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful.
All the 6 detainees have been on hunger strike, which started on April 10 in conjunction with the first anniversary of their detention.
The six reformasi Keadilan leaders are Tian Chua, Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, Saari Sungib, Dr Badrulamin Baharon, Lokman Noor Adam and Hishamuddin Rais
The detainees, who are being held for two years at the Kamunting Detention Camp in Perak for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government through militant means are demanding that they be released or charged in court.
At about 11.15 we were then given to understand that the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) commissioner Prof Hamdan Adnan would be visiting the Detention center to meet with the detainees. We then got in touch with Prof Hamdan by his hand phone and we told him that we were all out side the Kamunting Camp awaiting for approval to enter the Detention center since 10.00am. At about 11.30 Prof.Hamdan drove into the Detention Camp. He emerged out of the Detention Camp at 2.30pm and our attempts to speak to him were not successful.
We are given to understand later that Prof. Hamdan had said that the Detention Authorities are limiting lawyer’s access to meet the Detainees or what he said was “ a quota” is now been imposed.
When I last visited the detainees on Thursday (11/4/02) I was not able to get instructions from 1) Hishamuddin Rais 2) Badualamin Bahoron as there were just too unwell to meet me. Thus, it is imperative for me to meet the detainees to get instructions. But when I met the other 4 detainees it was all done in the presence of 3 police officers. The presence of police officers hampers me form getting full and frank instructions from the detainees.
Suhakam should demand the Detention Authorities to strictly adhere to Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution which spells out on issues of Fundamental Liberties and states “Where a person is arrested he shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest and shall be allowed to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice”
It is ironic that the Kamunting Authorities have now read “words” into the Federal Constitution by imposing a “quota” on the number of visits a lawyer can make to meet his clients to get instructions.
I then proceeded to the Kamunting Police station and lodged a report stating that the authorities in disallowing the lawyers to be consulted by the detainees have there by breached Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution.
Suhakam need to advise the Home Ministry and the Kamunting Detention Authorities to allow free access for lawyers to meet the detainees to get fresh instructions without further unnecessary interruptions.