Friday, January 28, 2011

Kugan’s mom: Give me back my son

The family's lawyer also urges the government to form a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe the youth's death in police custody two years ago.

PETALING JAYA:  Crushed by the court’s decision to free a policeman charged with causing grievous hurt to her deceased son, N Indra broke down in tears at a press conference here.

When asked to speak, the 42-year-old housewife could not find the words, and muttered to her lawyer N Surendran amid sobs, “I want my son back… give me back my son.”

Kugan’s aunt S Renuga, who was also present, said that the family was saddened by the Session Court’s decision to acquit Constable V Navindran this morning.

“When his death was highlighted, (Attorney-General) Abdul Gani (Patail) said there were 11 suspects. Now, not even one has been convicted. So where did his injuries come from?” asked the ashen-faced woman, urging the public to support the family’s call for justice.

Meanwhile, Surendran urged the government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the 21-year-old youth’s death in police custody two years ago.

“The commission must be given wide powers to find out who murdered Kugan,” he said.
Kugan, whose body was found riddled with scars, was detained to facilitate investigations into a car theft syndicate.

While the initial post-mortem concluded that he had died of fluid accumulation in the lungs, a second post-mortem commissioned by the family claimed that he was beaten, starved and burnt with a hot iron.

Surendran, who is also PKR vice-president, called on Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail to resign for failing to secure a conviction.

“Gani should be held personally responsible for the prosecution’s incompetence. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should personally answer for this,” he said.

MIC urges Najib to form IPCMC
Meanwhile, MIC information chief S Murugesan said a proper mechanism must be put in place to check the alarming number of death in custody cases.

“The acquittal in Kugan’s case just goes to show that we do not have a proper mechanism to monitor and bring to book those responsible for such deaths.

“At the moment, the police investigate death of inmates in its custody. Justice must not only be done but seen to be done as well,” he added.

Murugesan pointed out that in circumstances where the investigators were from the same agency under whose watch death occurred, the issue of impartiality and transparency arose.

Furthermore, he added, the number of convictions secured for death in police custody cases spoke volumes on the ineffectiveness of the current system.

In view of this, Murugesan urged Prime Minister Najib to set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

“The commission should have full powers to receive complaints, investigate, publish reports and prosecute those responsible in cases of death in custody.

“It will help restore public confidence in our police force and show the seriousness of the government in dealing with the issue,” he added.

No prima facie case
This morning, Justice Aslam Zainuddin said that Navindran was not required to enter his defence at the end of the prosecution case.

He added that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the constable.

Navindran, 28, faced two counts of causing grievous hurt to Kugan, 23, at the D9 interrogation room at the Taipan police station, Subang Jaya, at 7am on Jan 16, 2009. The offences carry a maximum 10 years jail and a fine upon conviction.

Navindran also faced two alternative charges of causing hurt to Kugan at the same place and time, which carry a maximum seven years jail and a fine on conviction.

Interlok retention condemned

PETALING JAYA: Various groups have condemned the government decision to retain the novel Interlok as a Malay literature text in schools, and their anger is directed mostly at Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister.

Klang MP Charles Santiago called it a “slap” on the face of Malaysian Indians and accused Muhyiddin of pandering to ultra-Malays to win votes in the Tenang by-election.

Muhyiddin, who announced the government decision today, said there would be amendments to the Abdullah Hussain novel to avoid hurt to Indian sentiments. Many groups are offended by what they describe as the novel’s stereotyped and misleading characterisation of Indians in Malaysia.

“He is pandering to the conservatives within Umno to secure his position in the party at the expense of the Indian community,” said Santiago.

This morning, Santiago led a group of 25 people representing non-governmental organisations and opposition parties to the Tenang police station, where they lodged a police report against the Education Minister and demanded complete withdrawal of the novel from schools.

Government misled?

The International Movement for the Preservation of Tamils, one of the NGOs, said it would hold a special prayer tomorrow in response to the Muhyiddin’s announcement.

“We will hold the prayer in Subramaniyar temple in Labis,” said the group’s public relations officer R Suresh Kumar.

He urged MIC to condemn the decision, saying this was the best time for the party to prove its mettle.

“If the MIC president has any clout in BN, he should act now,” he said.

The chairman of the Coalition of Malaysian Indian NGOs, A Vaithilingam, said the decision went against the government’s 1Malaysia campaign.

“I believe the government has been misled,” he said.

The Malaysian Indian Business Association also condemned the decision, with its president P Sivakumar arguing against the establishment of another panel to amend the novel.

He added that the Indian community’s view on the matter was very clear.

“The book should be taken out from schools,”said Sivakumar, who warned that the Indians may punish the ruling government for this in the next polls.

P Uthayakumar, the secretary-general of the Human Rights Party, meanwhile said he would respond only after seeing the amendments to the novel.

Kavyan welcomes it

However Kavyan Writers Association welcomed Muhyiddin’s decision to retain Interlok with necessary amendments.

“The decision is proof that the government is willing to listen to the plight and voices of the Indians,” said its president Uthaya Sankar SB.

He also reiterated the association’s stand that it was the Education Ministry and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka(DBP) that should take the blame, instead of National Laureate Abdullah Hussain since the copyright for the students’ edition was held by DBP.

Kampung Buah Pala returns to haunt

A banner put up during the Thaipusam festival has irked nine former residents, who claim to have been shortchanged by the state government.

GEORGE TOWN: Some issues just refuse to die, and the now extinct Kampung Buah Pala is one such case.
Despite the Pakatan Rakyat state government’s attempts to lay the ghost to rest, the demolition of the Indian village two years ago continues to haunt Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s administration.

A political banner put up during last week’s Thaipusam festival claiming that Lim had delivered his promise to the village folk had irked nine ex-residents.

Kampung Buah Pala Residents Association chairman M Sugumaran called it a misrepresentation of facts.
“The banner implied that all affected residents have been compensated. Regretfully, nine more families are still waiting for compensation,” he told reporters.

The nine included two cowherds who were also seeking alternative land to breed their cattle.

“Our ranches were demolished ruthlessly by the developer two years ago. But until today, the state government refuses to give us alternative land to rear our cows, which are sacred to us,” said cowherd K Sivanantham, 41.

He said the state land office once offered a swamp-like waterlogged land near the Kuala Sungai Pinang coastal area in the Southwest district.

“Any cowherd will know that one cannot breed cows in a wet area. It has to be dry land,” he said.
Sugumaran blasted the state government for still refusing to compensate the nine “merely because they stood
up to defend their  rights”.
“Where are the houses for the nine? Why are we not compensated?” he asked.

Court hearing next week

The banner presumably was put up by former villagers thanking the Pakatan government for compensating them with double-storey houses.

It featured portraits of Lim, Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy, and photographs of the ongoing construction of the posh Oasis condominium project on the land.
The banner was put up near the DAP thaneer panthal (refeshment shed), located outside party national chairman and Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh’s house in Jalan Utama, Waterfall.

The 200-year-old Kampung Buah Pala was demolished in September 2009 to make way for the Oasis, undertaken by landowner Penang Civil Servant Cooperative Society and developer Nusmetro Venture (P) Sdn Bhd.

The 6.5-acre plot was sold to the cooperative for only RM3.21 million.

The village was once known to the locals, especially Indians, as the Tamil High Chaparral due to its high population of Indian cowherds and livestock as well as unique cultural features and festivities.

Originally, some 33 families lived in the village when the Oasis project was hatched by the previous Barisan Nasional state administration some six years ago.

However, the Gerakan-led state government inserted a clause to compel the developers to settle the compensation issue with the villagers first before the land title could be transferred.

Nine families moved out from the village some six years ago after agreeing to the original compensation package offered by Nusmetro.

The package was either a RM75,000 worth 800 sq ft low medium flat unit in the Oasis or cash.
But 24 others stayed put to fight for the land, which they claimed was given to their ancestors under trust by their colonial plantation master, the Brown Family.

When the village was demolished, the Pakatan government agreed to compensate the families with a double-storey house each, to be built on a 1.5-acre plot of land at the project site.

However, nine out of the 24 families did not get the house.

The houses were instead given to villagers who had already left after agreeing with the original compensation package.

According to the official version, the nine families failed to ink the documents for the houses in time.
However, the deprived nine pinned the blame on Lim and his personal vendetta.

The nine families had already initiated court action seeking a full trial over the Kampung Buah Pala land status.
They argued that since the land was under a federal trust, the state government had no right to transfer the land to a private developer.

Moreover, there had been no documented evidence to show that the federal government had ever transferred the land title to the Penang government, read the affidavit.

The case is up for hearing at the High Court next Monday.