30 April 2008
Dilemma of an ISA detainee's wife
oleh Rahmah Ghazali
Her husband has been held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) at the Kamunting detention camp for the last six years, as a suspected member of regional terrorism group Jemaah Islamiah.
This afternoon, her frustration spilled over, despite the knowledge that going public with her views could expose Mat Sah Mohd Satray to some kind of punishment.
Norlaila Othman was in a 20-member delegation in Parliament House to support the submission of a memorandum to Opposition Leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ibrahim and Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar.
The joint memorandum, by Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) and the Human Rights Committee (HRC) of the Bar Council, demanded the release all the detainees and the abolition of the ISA.
Syed Hamid did not show up, but at a press conference, Norlaila alleged that she has been warned to keep quiet about her husband.
"I was told by the Special Branch that my husband could be detained for another six years if I talk to Wan Azizah and the media. But I can't keep quiet. I need to tell everyone about this.
"Two years ago, I ambushed the prime minister in Seremban. The next day, my husband was put in a confinement cell. There was no window, no lights, just a few small holes for air.
"My biggest worry is my husband's condition. I don't know what will happen to him when this (story) is published. But I don't give a damn what happens to us."
Apart from Wan Azizah, other MPs at the press conference were Charles Santiago (DAP-Klang), Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) and Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena).
Syed Hamid was criticised for not having visited the ISA detainees or taking a closer look at the situation on the ground.
"I urge the minister to go to Kamunting and visit them personally, rather than sign detention orders in his office," said HRC deputy chairperson Amer Hamzah Arshad.
The 20-member delegation included S Pushpaneela, the wife of M Manoharan, and V Raidu, the brother of S Ganapathi Rao.
Manoharan and Ganapathi are among five Hindu Rights Action Force leaders currently being detained in Kamunting for two years, on grounds that they are a 'threat to national security'.
The group handed out Malaysia Bebas dari ISA (ISA-free Malaysia) badges to those present, which Wan Azizah then distributed personally to other MPs in the lobby and cafetaria.
Among those who accepted the badges were Mukhriz Mahathir (BN-Jerlun) and Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau).
When Wan Azizah placed a badge against Khairy's chest (right), he smilingly remarked: "You're very naughty, you know I can't remove your hand. I will not wear it, but I will accept it."
At another press conference in Parliament House, the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) reminded MPs to re-activate the parliamentary gender caucus to curb gender discrimination and inequality.
They carried placards with the slogan Kotakan Kata (Keep your word) to remind MPs to fulfill pledges made during the general election campaign in relation to women's rights.
The JAG demands include:
• Turning the caucus into a pro-active body
• Amending the Standing Order to ban sexism
• Amending Islamic Family Law in line with proposals made earlier
• Standardising Syariah law in all states and the federal territories
All Women's Action Society executive councillor Honey Tan pointed out that there had been numerous occasions when parliamentarians had made sexist remarks and no action had been taken against them.
"When the bocor incident happened, there was no statement from the caucus. That was disappointing when it should have done a lot", she said.
On May 9 last year, Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) sparked an uproar with the comment and eventually had to issue a public apology.
"Where's the leak? The Batu Gajah MP leaks every month too," Bung said referring to the DAP representative Fong Po Kuan whose question was about the poor maintenance of the Parliament building.
However, Women's Aid Organisation persident Meera Samanther later told Malaysiakini that she had met with Bung Mokhtar after the press conference and was assured that this would not happen again.
Watch 4-min video of JAG in Parliament