Call on Abdullah to invite Suhakam to conduct a public  inquiry into the assaults  of two reformasi ISA detainees, Tian Chua and Hishamuddin Rais, by detention personnel and firm  assurance that there would be no extension on end of the  two-year ISA detention of the reformasi six  on June 1

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Monday): DAP calls on Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to invite Suhakam to conduct a public inquiry into the assaults of the two reformasi ISA detainees, Tian Chua and Hishamuddin Rais last Friday (9.5.03) at about 4 p.m. and a firm assurance that there would be no extension on end  of the  two-year ISA detention of the reformasi six on June 1. 

I have just received a report from DAP Deputy Secretary-General M. Kula Segaran, who met four of the five ISA detainees in Kamunting Detention Centre for about one-and-a-half-hours this afternoon from 2.30 p.m. to 4 p.m. in his capacity as lawyer for the detainees, namely Tian Chua, Hishamuddin, Saari Sungip  and Lokman Adam. Dr. Badrul Amin Bahron  was too unwell to be able to come out of the block to meet with Kula Segaran.  

Tian Chua, who was the target of the criminal assault by a contingent of some 30 prisoner security officers (Unit Keselamatan  Penjara – UKP) was  taken to the Taiping Hospital on Friday night for treatment of his injuries; while Hishamuddin Rais, who had gone to Tian Chua’s help by shouting “dia ini (Tian Chua) ada asma jaga sikit” at least three times, was also assaulted, handcuffed and locked in the “dark room” for solitary confinement for 45 minutes. 

There can be no justification for any altercation or differences between Tian Chua and the detention authorities over the use of Tian Chua’s notebook computer for the  criminal assaults on Tian Chua and Hishamuddin. 

Tian Chua has been accepted as a  Ph.D. candidate by a Dutch university and is in the process of writing his thesis.  He had asked for the use of his notebook computer which had been kept by  detention centre for a year, without clear instructions as to whether he could  take it  into his block for his Ph.D.  use. On Friday morning,  Tian Chua had taken the notebook into his block after giving a clear undertaking to detention centre officers  that if the rules did not allow it, he would comply and take it out. 

If the detention officials had  later discovered that there were clear rules prohibiting taking  a notebook computer into  the detention block, they should have informed Tian Chua to surrender the notebook instead of sending in a contingent of some 30 officers in full riot-gear, including chemical sprays, and assaulting Tian Chua and Hishammuddin – which were clearly criminal excessive use of force. 

There is in fact no reason why the prison and detention authorities cannot allow prisoners and detainees the use of their own computers, as fears that they could be used to establish contacts with the outside world is merely a reflection of the IT-illiteracy of the prison authorities. 

The assault of defenceless ISA detainees, Tian Chua and Hishamuddin is an outrage and reminds Malaysians of the infamous  ‘black eye” assault  of former deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, by the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sir Rahim Noor in Sept. 1998. 

Although the consequences  of the assaults on Tian Chua and Hishamuddin  had not been as serious as compared to Anwar who was assaulted to an inch of his life, such dastardly abuses of power against defenceless detainees cannot  be   countenanced even for a second, and this is why Abdullah should direct the immediate suspension from service of  all the prison security personnel responsible for the assaults as well as  the officers who had authorized the unlawful operation. 

What is at stake is not only justice for Tian Chua and Hishamuddin, but also a test of authority and leadership of Abdullah as Home Minister. 

The two-year detention of the reformasi six under the Internal Security Act ends  on June 1. Abdullah should give an assurance that there would be no two-year  extension of the ISA detention of the reformasi six, especially as the Federal Court  had ruled that their ISA detention by the police was mala fide and the ISA Advisory Board  appointed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong had made specific recommendations for  their release. 


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman