Friday, July 23, 2010

Family wants written safety guarantee for Tharmendran

By G Vinod - Free Malaysia Today,

KUALA LUMPUR: The family of former air force sergeant N Tharmendran submitted a note of demand to the Defence Ministry urging its minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to give written guarantee that no armed forces personnel will attempt to arrest him. It also also urged the minister to take action against those who were attempting to take Tharmendran back to air base and those who had tortured him when he was in custody.

On June 17, Tharmendran's father claimed that his son was tortured while in custody by senior Royal Malaysian Air Force officials and made to confess to stealing two jet engines.

On July 8, Tharmendran was released from Sungai Buloh prison after posting bail. However, his family claimed that there were attempts by the air force to bring him back to the air base.

Fearing the prospect of being illegally taken to the air base, Tharmendran applied to withdraw his bail and voluntarily surrendered himself to the custody of prison officials.

Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran, who accompanied Tharmendran's father N Nagarajah to the ministry, said: “Tharmendran ceased to be an air force personnel since May 28.

“But we were recently made aware that the air force is trying to get him back to its air base. This is unlawful.”

MPs S Manickavasagam (Kapar), Zuraida Kamaruddi (Ampang), Tian Chua (Batu), and lawyers Latheefa Koya and N Surendran were in the procession to hand over the note of demand.

Lawyers and MPs denied entry

The group was earlier denied entry into the ministry premises by military police which irked Zuraida who lambasted them.

“We are the people's representative but yet you are not even giving us the courtesy by letting us in,” said Zuraida.

After several deliberations, the ministry sent its corporate communicatons officer K Raveendran to receive the note at the ministry's entrance but the lawmakers refused to hand over the note to him.

“We are not here to do business. We are here on an issue of national concern,” Manogaran told Raveendran.

Then the military adviser to the minister, brigadier-general Dzahir Abd Rahim came to receive the group, eventually allowing them into the ministry premises for a meeting at 11am.

After 20 minutes, the group returned and said they were disappointed that the minister or the deputy minister was not around to receive them.

Manickavasagam said that Dzahir could not guarantee Tharmendran's safety. “He did not even say when he was going to hand over the note to the minister. Tharmendran's well-being is still at stake.”