Malaysian Indian woman to sue for false detention

September 17th, 2008 - 12:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Sep 17 (IANS) A Malaysian Indian woman is seeking compensation and an unqualified apology from the Malaysian immigration department for her wrongful detention for 11 months after she was mistaken for an illegal alien from Sri Lanka.Perak state’s Health, Environment and Human Resources Committee chairman A. Sivanesan relayed Rajeshvari’s demand during a media conference in Ipoh Tuesday.

Urging the department to check all detention depots in the country, Sivanesan said he feared that Rajeshvari’s case could be “just the tip of the iceberg”.

He said it had been two weeks since Rajeshvari’s release, but the immigration department director-general Mahmud Adam had been “dead silent” on the matter.

“There is no apology, offer of compensation or visit to her house to explain her wrongful detention,” he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

Rajeshvari spent 11 agonising months at the depot for illegal immigrants because she could not recall her MyKad (identity card) number and was not fluent in Bahasa Malaysia, the official Malaysian language.

The 22-year-old, who was six months pregnant then, was waiting for a relative at a coffee shop in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, when a raiding police party asked to see her MyKad. She failed to produce her identity card as she had lost it.

Noting that Rajeshvari planned to sue the department, Sivanesan said the police officer and immigration department officer involved in her arrest and subsequent detention should explain why she was detained for so long.

Barat M. Kulasegaran, MP from Ipoh, said when Rajeshvari was charged in court, she was not given an interpreter who could converse in Tamil nor was she given any legal representation.

“It is the court’s duty to provide an accused with an interpreter and a lawyer,” he said.

Rajeshwari was mistaken for an illegal Sri Lankan immigrant by the Malaysian authorities despite her repeated pleas that she was a local. She gave birth to a boy, Logekali, while in detention.

“I know it’s my fault that I could not produce or remember my identity card number but I did give the officers my address and school’s name only to be told that these did not exist,” she said.

She claimed she told them this several times in Bahasa Malaysia but they did not believe her.

“I was never a bright student and left school at 13 but I can still converse in basic Bahasa,” Rajeshvari added.

With help from Malaysian Indian Youth vice-president Andrew Raju, she finally managed to obtain a birth certificate for her 10-month-old son and a temporary identity card for herself.

Rajeshvari now wants to put the nightmare behind her and start afresh.

“I want to forget the agonising months at the detention centre and be with my family again. All I want is the best possible future for my son,” she said.

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