Teresa Kok released from ISA detention (full update)

  • Nation
  • Friday, 19 Sep 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: Seputeh MP Teresa Kok was released from detention under the Internal Security Act at about 1pm on Friday.

Her father Kok Kim Tong and mother Poh Seh Kwon were at the Jalan Travers police station here when she was released.

“I am happy that I have been released and I’m okay,” she told reporters gatheredat the police station.

“I do not know why I was released today, just as I do not know why I was detained,” she added.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said that Kok had been released at 1.30pm after investigations showed there was no reason to detain her any further.

"She was released unconditionally," he added.

Kok, 44, later Friday told a press conference at the DAP headquarters in Petaling Jaya that she would sue Utusan Malaysia and its columnist Zaini Hassan over articles written about her.

She also said she would sue former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo over his statements about her, and the Government for unlawful detention (see full statement below).

Kok said that throughout her detention, she was repeatedly asked three questions:

1) Whether she had mobilised a group of residents at Bandar Kinrara to present a petition to oppose the Azan at the Bandar Kinrara mosque;

2) Whether she had made a statement that 30% of the allocation for the Selangor Religious Department should be given to other non-religious bodies; and

3) Whether she was opposed to Jawi wordings in road signages in Kuala Lumpur.

Kok also said that the police never explained to her why she had been detained.

"I kept asking why I had been detained but the police never told me why,” she added, saying that she gave her full co-operation to the police during her eight-day detention.

She said she had thought she was detained for seven days as the police had more questions for her, but there were none.

“I kept asking them ‘What have I done to be arrested under the ISA?’, but they could not answer me.

“They only told me that it was an ‘instruction from the top’ but they did not specify anything,” she said.

On the day she was arrested, Kok said that she was on her way home after her formal functions when two cars stopped her vehicle.

“One stopped behind my car, the other stopped in front of me. I felt like I was being kidnapped.

“They knocked on my window, told me to come out and said that I was being arrested under the ISA,” she said.

She added that they did not even allow her to make a phone call to her lawyer or her family, which suspects are entitled to when arrested.

“I was denied even this. So I had to give some numbers to my driver and he had to make the calls for me,” she said.

Darkness liftedHer parents, Kok Kim Tong, 74, and Pong Seh Kwan, 71, were also present at the press conference, and both looked very happy.

“I have not been able to sleep in the last one week, and my high-blood pressure has gone up,” said Pong.

“But I am so happy today that my daughter has been released. It feels like the darkness which had been present all week has been lifted from my home and my heart. It’s bright again,” Pong said. Also present at the press conference were many Pakatan Rakyat leaders including Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and DAP national chairman Karpal Singh.

The Kinrara assemblyman and senior Selangor state executive councillor was detained one week ago, together with Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng.

Tan was released after 18 hours.

Kok was detained because she was considered a potential threat to national security for "racial incitement" after she was accused of petitioning a mosque to reduce the volume for azan (the call to prayer), something which she had vehemently denied.

The accusation surfaced in a Sept 10 article in Utusan Malaysia quoting former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo.

The accusation was refuted by the Kinrara mosque committee chairman and Kota Raja MP Dr Siti Mariah had lodged a police report against Dr Mohd Khir on this issue.

Kok also lodged a police report against the Malay daily, its columnist Zaini Hassan and Dr Mohd Khir.

“I believe one of the excuses for my ISA detention is in relation to that article and I place Utusan Malaysia, Zaini Hassan and Dr Mohd Khir Toyo responsible for my arrest,” she had stated in her police report.

On Monday, Kok filed a habeas corpus application in the High Court for her release citing that her arrest and detention under the Internal Security Act was unlawful.

Sankara said then that the court had fixed Sept 23 for hearing but said they would apply for Sept 22 instead as he had another case and Karpal Singh would be in East Malaysia on that date.

Repeal or review ISAGerakan welcomed the release of Kok and reiterated its call for the release of Raja Petra, adding that the ISA needs “to be substantially amended if not repealed.”

Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the step was necessary to prevent what is now widely perceived as misuse and abuse of the law.

“No doubt, by previous ISA ‘standards’, her detention of less than seven days is comparatively short ... still, this infringes on human rights and freedom,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Dr Koh said when he met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi briefly on Tuesday, he assured him that the police had been told not to detain Kok and Raja Petra for a day longer than was necessary for investigation and other procedures.

“While the Prime Minister’s sincerity and seriousness are appreciated, these two cases drove home the point that the police exercise of the ISA seemed to be based on a rather flimsy and even flippant basis,” he said.

PAS Youth urged the Government not to use the ISA on anyone at all on humanitarian grounds.

“If you have proof, let the courts decide. There’s no use for this draconian law,” said PAS Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub.

Transparency International Malaysia urged the Government to free Raja Petra and all other ISA detainees in the interest of national transparency, integrity and progress.

Its president Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said Kok’s release was an expression of better acccountability on the part of the Government.

The Centre for Public Policy Studies said Kok’s detention was unwarranted and should not have taken place.

Newsflash:Court to hear Raja Petra’s application next Friday

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok’s full statementMy ISA detention is without any legal or moral basis. It is a clear abuse of detention without trial.

I have been released after being detained in solitary confinement in a 6ft by 8ft holding cell for seven days under the Internal Security Act. I was informed by the police that they detained me under Section 73(1) of Internal Security Act 1960, which means I have incited racial and religious tension and conflict.

After being detained for seven days under the guise of so-called investigations, the police failed to produce any evidence or proof of me being involved in the activities of causing racial and religious tension.

They were only able to ask me few questions based entirely on the false and malicious article written by Zaini Hassan under the topic “Azan, jawi, JAIS, Uitm dan ba-alif-ba-ya” that was published in Utusan Malaysia on Sept 10, 2008.

The three main questions that the investigation officers asked me were:

1) Whether I had mobilised a group of residents at Bandar Kinrara to present a petition to oppose to the azan at the Bandar Kinrara mosque;

2) Whether I had made a statement that 30% of the Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS) allocation is to be given to other non-Islam religious bodies; and

3) Whether I had opposed the Jawi wording in road signages in Kuala Lumpur.

I denied the first two accusations as I did not do any such things as accused. I also told them that the issue of opposing Jawi road signages in Kuala Lumpur was done in January/ February 2008 at the request and following the pressure of resident associations. The resident associations, particularly in Taman Seputeh, were most unhappy because many of the road signages were changed arbitrarily by DBKL a few months before and changed again soon after this time with Jawi wordings. They were strongly opposed to this kind of wastage of public funds by DBKL.

I was quite surprised that there were no other questions posed to me besides these few main questions.

The Internal Security Act is meant to detain people who threaten national security. The three issues stated above have nothing to do with national security. If the police wanted to carry out investigations on me, they can always ask me to give statements in any police station and there was absolutely no need to detain me under the ISA for seven days. This is a phenomenal abuse of the power of police under the ISA.

Besides, it is nonsensical for the police to detain me under the ISA merely based on the unsubstantiated article written by an irresponsible columnist in Utusan Malaysia. How can they regard that article as the gospel truth without investigating the writer in the first place? How can Utusan Malaysia publish it without verifying the facts?

I wish to ask the police whether they have called Zaini Hassan and Utusan Malaysia’s editors for questioning before and after my detention.

I know that the imam of Bandar Kinrara mosque has publicly denied that I got involved in the Puchong residents petition against the azan of his mosque on Sept 13. I am also quite surprised to read in the New Straits Times dated Sept 19 that the official of the Bandar Kinrara mosque was called by the Dang Wangi police for statement recording only yesterday afternoon. Why did the police do it so late, one week after I was arrested? Why didn’t they check their facts first before they arrested me and put me behind bars?

I have been made scapegoat in the internal squabbles of Umno.

I see my detention as a ploy by Umno to try to cover up the embarrassment and the outrage of the racist statements made by Ahmad Ismail in Penang. I wonder why did they choose an innocent person like me as I have never made any racist statements or racist speeches in the past?

I lodged a police report on Sept 17 against Utusan Malaysia, Zaini Hassan and Dr Khir Toyo for criminal defamation. I would therefore urge the police to investigate Utusan Malaysia’s editors, those racist bloggers and Dr Khir Toyo under the Penal Code.

As I have mentioned in my previous lawyer’s visit, I will sue Utusan Malaysia, Zaini Hassan and Dr Khir Toyo. I have also instructed my lawyers to sue the Malaysian government for my unlawful arrest and detention.

Raja Petra should be released.

As I am free from ISA detention today, I also call for the release of Raja Petra, the Hindraf Five and all other 60 over detainees under the draconian ISA.

I would also like to thank all politicians in the ruling parties as well as in the Pakatan Rakyat, NGOs, churches and all social organisations who have campaigned and prayed for my release.

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