Mind your own business, Malaysian minister tells colleague

September 25th, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Sep 25 (IANS) A Malaysian Indian minister’s resolve to probe the quality of food served to those detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) has earned a reprimand from his senior, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar.Slamming Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department T. Murugiah for implying that those in police custody were not properly fed, Albar said: “Murugiah had better look after his own ministry.”

“It is not his job … he is the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and if there is anything for him to gripe about, he should bring it to the attention of the prime minister,” Albar said when asked about a memorandum that Murugiah said he would submit to the ministry.

“I don’t answer to him,” said Albar, adding that the food served to detainees met international standards, The New Straits Times said Thursday.

The government has detained about 80 people under the stringent ISA. These include five ethnic Indians of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) who staged a protest rally last November.

They are serving two-year jail terms for seeking to highlight the perceived discrimination of Malaysia’s 2.6 million ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Hindus.

Murugiah had said he would investigate the matter following ethnic Chinese lawmaker Teresa Kok’s allegations that she was given food that was “little better than dog food” during her recent seven-day detention under the ISA.

Murugiah, whose portfolio includes the Public Complaints Bureau, said the RM4.50 ($2) allocation provided by the police must be revised to suit the current cost of living.

Murugiah said he would check the police station where Kok was held and also restaurants from where the food was purchased before submitting his report to the prime minister and home minister.

He had earlier said: “We want transparency. I’m quite serious about this and I don’t want this to be swept under the carpet.”

“Detainees must be treated as human beings,” Murugiah added.

On his scope of power, he had said: “We don’t need to get permission from any ministry. We can just walk in, do the investigation and take immediate action.”

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