The Power Of SMS

Selfish, ignorant Malaysians

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 26, 2009

MALAYSIAKINI

Charles Hector and Pranom Somwong

We are alarmed to hear that Sa La Hin, 26, and Thang Hoih Ping, 21, two Burmese migrants, have died in Malaysia’s Juru Immigration Detention Centre from Leptospirosis. This is a disease that is usually caused by exposure to water contaminated by the urine of infected animals such as rodents, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals. The fact that two persons are dead and others have been infected by this disease, again highlights the state of hygiene, cleanliness and healthcare at Malaysian detention centres.

We recall that it was reported in the media in December 2008 that about 1,300 illegal foreigners have died during detention in the past six years, Malaysia Nanban quoted Malaysian Human Rights (Suhakam) commissioner N. Siva Subramaniam as saying. He said many of them died in immigration detention centres, prisons and police lockups because they were denied medical treatment at the right time.

Now, Sa La Hin and Thang Hoih Ping may just be the latest additions to that list of detainees that died due to similar reasons.

We also recall the words of Suhakam, in their response to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) dated 13 January 2009 stated that: “… SUHAKAM views the denial of medical attention to the point of endangering one’s life as a serious violation of that person’s right to life….”

These deaths may have been avoided if medical attention was provided promptly, and we call for an independent public inquiry to determine whether there was such negligence on the part of the Ikatan Relawan Rakyat or better known as RELA (a people’s volunteer corps), and the Immigration officers, who are currently responsible for Immigration detention centres in Malaysia.

We do appreciate the fact that the Director General of Immigration has now decided that ‘cleanliness and hygiene at immigration depots nationwide are to be stepped-up to ensure safety of staff and inmates there against contracting infectious diseases’.

We hope that this is not merely a knee-jerk response, which is temporary in nature, but a new and permanent commitment by Malaysia to improve standards and conditions of detention centres and other places of detention.

The current once a week visit by a medical officer to the detention centres is certainly inadequate. There should be, at the very least, a permanent clinic/dispensary manned by a medical assistant with a doctor visiting detainees for several hours at least once every two days or more frequently.

New users of the Detention facility should also be determined free from easily transmittable diseases like tuberculosis and the A(H1N1) flu before being introduced to the general population of detention places.

There should also be regular visits by health officer, who shall monitor the condition, including of the living and sleeping environment, of the detention centre to ensure that it meets the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness.

The foods, and all aspects of food preparation, also need to be monitored by the Health Department especially since there is a possibility that the fault in the recent deaths could be the current caterer of food and drink.

With regard to those who have died, we are of the opinion that their family and/or dependents should be given adequate compensation by the persons responsible, the detaining authority and the Malaysian government.

Officers and persons responsible for the acts or omissions that resulted in death and suffering should be charged and prosecuted for these crimes. They should not be permitted to hide behind safeguards provided to public servants and/or the RELA volunteers, which unfortunately only promotes culture of impunity with no sense of responsibility and respect for human life.

We call on the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) to immediately commence a public inquiry into these deaths and detention places generally, and come up with concrete recommendations which could be implemented that will improve state of cleanliness, hygiene and healthcare of all detention places in Malaysia.

We also call upon the Ministry of Health and the government of Malaysia to take necessary steps to ensure proper steps be taken to ensure that such disregard for life does not happen again.

We reiterate the call for the abolition of RELA, and restate our position that law enforcement, and management of detention places should be done by professionally trained full-time public servants, not volunteers.

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