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Malaysian lawmaker sues over detention

A Malaysian opposition lawmaker sued the country’s home minister, police chief and a senior police officer on Friday for her wrongful arrest last year under the tough Internal Security Act.

world Updated: Mar 13, 2009 13:46 IST

A Malaysian opposition lawmaker sued the country’s home minister, police chief and a senior police officer on Friday for her wrongful arrest last year under the tough Internal Security Act (ISA).

Teresa Kok, from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), a member of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance, was arrested in September for alleged involvement in a petition to silence the call to prayer from mosques in non-Muslim areas.

Kok was released seven days later, after police said they were satisfied she was not a threat to public order and security.

“I think that the arrest was baseless and groundless, which is why they released me seven days later,” she told AFP.

“My lawyer had sent a letter of demand in September last year but the attorney general’s chamber asked for time to respond and now it has been more than half a year so I have decided to file the suit officially,” she said.

Kok said Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar and police chief Musa Hassan had not fully investigated the matter before senior police official E Kim Tien arrested her.

“They say that I caused disharmony among the races and caused hatred by involvement in the issue but a day after I was detained the imam of the mosque in question denied I was in any way involved,” she said.

“I was shocked that the police did not carry out even a basic investigation,” Kok added.

“The ISA is a draconian law that can be abused by these people in any way they like and so I think it is important to sue them to get justice from the courts.”

The home ministry said it was holding 46 people under the ISA in December, most of them members of militant groups like Jemaah Islamiyah and Darul Islam.

The security law, which provides for a two-year detention period that can be renewed indefinitely, dates back to the British colonial era, when it was used against communist insurgents.

However, critics say it has been improperly used by the government to silence its opponents.