EO Trio : The Journey Home
Writer: Lord Bobo
Published: Fri, 30 Mar 2012
Lord Bobo has yet to return from his inter-galactic travels. LoyarBurok instead wraps up the story previously found in the 29th edition of Selangor Times entitled “The Long Struggle for Trial” where Gan Pei Ling wrote about Arif, Rafe and Ramadhan – three boys who were “banished” for allegedly being involved in a stolen motorcycle gang. They were recently released from their restriction orders.
Pusat Rakyat LoyarBurok and SUARAM were instrumental in drawing attention to the boys’ predicament and appointing the lawyers to free the boys. More interestingly, the case was also used to try and end the state of emergency we were then living under. The government ended the three Emergency Orders last year.
A day in court simply means the right to present one’s side of the matter before an arbiter. But stop for one minute if that right, which we now take for granted, is taken away.
Instead of getting the opportunity to answer the charges preferred against you, be it theft, murder or illegal parking, you are banished to another place. Sent away from family and friends, work and hobbies, the exile is like a sentence away from life itself. Unimaginable for most of us but that is what happened to three youths last year.
Muhamad Arif Abu Samah, and brothers Mohamad Rafe Mohd Ali and Mohamad Ramadan Mohd Ali, were three ordinary boys aged between 19 and 21. Sometime in March 2011, they were arrested for motorcycle theft under.
The boys were then served with detention orders under the Emergency Ordinance 1969 (EO) placing them in police detention for 60 days.
All three boys complained that they were assaulted by a group of policemen during their detention. They said that they were forced to confess, and sign blank documents. When the families were given a limited amount of time to visit (under heavy supervision), the boys had injuries on their bodies and appeared fearful.
In addition, Rafe and Ramadan’s family claim that they were conned by a man claiming to be Inspector Zulkifli from Balai Polis Gombak, Selayang. The man said that the family must pay RM30,000 into a CIMB Bank Account in the name of one Ponnan a/l Sabaratnam to bail the brothers out. The family was poor – they could only manage to collect RM13,000 after negotiating and deposited this sum into that account. (RM5,000 of that money was withdrawn before the family discovered this was all a fraud.)
Lawyers from the Pusat Rakyat LB filed a habeas corpus application to release them from their detention. But right before it was heard in court, the boys were “released” but immediately slapped with Restriction Orders under the EO.
Those Restriction Orders (ROs) forced them to live for the next two years in Mukim Lenggor, Daerah Mersing, Johor (Arif); Mukim Chenor, Daerah Maran, Pahang (Ramadan) and Mukim Sungai Ular, Daerah Kulim, Kedah (Rafe) respectively.
These areas are as their names suggest in the middle of nowhere, and were miles away from the boys’ homes in the Klang Valley. The ROs prevented them from leaving the districts and they had to report to the nearest police station every day. They were not allowed to leave their homes between 8pm and 6am.
The reason for all this: The police and Home Ministry said the three had apparently been involved in stealing five different motorcycles at various different places between December 2009 and March 2010.
No evidence was given for these allegations. The boys had never even been arrested or questioned before either.
As the three had never been charged in court, there had been no trial. The police had not produced any evidence to the boys either. No witnesses were called to be cross-examined by lawyers for the boys. The boys were not given an opportunity to present their case. An independent judicial officer had not found that the prosecution had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the boys had stolen the motorcycles.
If someone does not want to give evidence, the only inference one can draw is that the someone was making an accusation without evidence.
The use of the EO for situations such as this was a gross abuse of the powers entrusted to the Government during times of Emergency. Emergency provisions exist for situations like May 13, 1969 (when our Emergency was implemented). Immediately after normal life resumes, the Emergency is meant to be lifted. Not so in Malaysia.
We had been living in a totally fictitious state of Emergency for more than 40 years when the boys were arrested.
The boys and their lawyers therefore decided to use this case to end the Emergency. They wrote to the Prime Minister and told him that unless the Cabinet advised the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to end the Emergency, they would ask the court to force them to do it. This was in May 2011.
Of course, no response was given to the lawyers and so an application for judicial review was filed asking for the Restriction Orders to be quashed and also asking for an Order to force the prime minister and cabinet to advise the King to revoke the Emergency.
But before the application was heard, on Sept 15, 2011, the prime minister in his Malaysia Day speech announced the government’s long-delayed repeal of the state of Emergency. Eventually, in November and December 2011, the two Houses of Parliament passed resolutions to end the Emergency.
Despite all this, the boys were still not released. The Government had accepted that the basis of the boys restriction was no longer valid but still insisted on keeping them away from their families.
It was only after their lawyers wrote again that the boys were released on March 6, 2012, after 11 months under the Restriction Order.
A year of their lives has been wasted, all without charge, without trial, without the government proving the allegations against them, without an opportunity for them to show their innocence.
Why did these three boys have to be detained? Why were they then forced to live far away from their families in very remote areas? Why did all this happen when they were never charged and convicted for any crime?
And why has the Home Ministry failed to release others like them, and instead of waiting the full six months for Emergency laws to end?