8 Sosma detainees on hunger strike for bail

Hadzlihady Hassan

GEORGE TOWN: Eight Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012 detainees with chronic illnesses, at the Penang Prison here, are refusing food and medication.

The inmates, who started their hunger strike yesterday morning, are demanding that the government allow them to have bail.

Tamilar Kural Malaysia president David Marshel said the eight, aged between 20 and 50s, and suffering from high blood pressure, cancer and HIV/AIDS, were among 42 Sosma detainees at the jail.

“We have met prison officials and were told that the detainees had refused to eat and take their medicines despite being coaxed to do so. All of them appeared weak,” he said.

Marshel, who was with 20 family members of the detainees at the prison’s entrance, urged the government and the attorney-general to review the Act.

“They are willing to risk their lives so long as the government does not give a decision on the matter,” he said.

“The Pakatan Harapan government promised to abolish the Act. Now, after more than 100 days in office, no decision has been made.

“The detainees and their family members are very dissatisfied.

“They want those with illnesses to be bailed out to seek treatment. They also want their cases to be brought to court according to the law.”

K. Kandasamy, 64, the father of one of the detainees, said his 39-year-old son had high blood pressure and needed treatment.

“He was detained last October. He had only been married for four months then,” he said.

“I hope my son, who is the family’s backbone, will be released on bail. If indeed he did something wrong, let him go through a fair trial.”

On Saturday, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs Mohamed Hanipa Maidin voiced his support for the removal of the Act, describing Sosma as a form of tyranny.

Incoming PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had called for a review of procedures under Sosma, referring specifically to the way detainees were treated behind bars.

He said he would raise the issue with the home minister. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd