Below is an AFP news report filed by the wire agency's Kuala Lumpur-based reporter Romen Bose. I believe this report contains some very, very serious allegations against the Royal Malaysian Police.
Would the Royal Malaysian Police care to respond?
By Romen Bose
AFP Kuala Lumpur.
KUALA LUMPUR, September 30, 2011 (AFP) - When Ganasari Nokiah's husband vanished into Malaysian police custody last year, it sent her on a downward slide that left her destitute, hopeless and suicidal.
Ravichandran Vellian was detained in March 2010 on suspicion of buying stolen goods in the capital Kuala Lumpur under the Emergency Ordinance (EO), a dreaded 1969 law allowing virtually indefinite detention without trial.
Prime Minister Najib Razak surprised observers this month by vowing to ease authoritarian laws used for decades to maintain order in the multi-racial country but widely criticised for violating rights.
But families of detainees still do not know whether this will mean freedom for those now held -- many merely on suspicion of petty crimes -- and say the move does nothing to fix the damage done by the harsh detentions.
"I have gone through hell. I have begged the police on my knees to free my husband," said Ganasari, 31, who lives with her five children in a decrepit single room in one of Kuala Lumpur's poorest neighbourhoods.
Seated on a bare floor, Ganasari repeatedly broke down describing the loss of her husband and his income. She said she and her children had not eaten for two days.
She confessed her despair drove her to attempt to poison herself and the children to death. All survived.
"What do we have to live for?" she asked.
Authoritarian rule has marked Malaysia's history since its independence in 1957, enabled by tough laws allowing preventive detention to nip perceived security threats in the bud.
The Internal Security Act (ISA) was enacted in 1960 in the wake of a failed communist insurgency.
The EO was brought in after race riots in 1969 shook ties between Malays -- who make up more than half of Malaysia's 28 million people -- and the country's Chinese and Indian minorities.
Police say more than 700 people were detained under the EO this year alone. Up to 6,000 are currently held, according to the UN Human Rights Council.
Malaysian human rights group SUARAM says 30 are now held under the ISA, which is often employed against opposition politicians, activists and suspected Islamic militants.
The long-ruling Malay-dominated government now headed by Najib has said such laws ensured the stability that allowed Malaysia to prosper into a Southeast Asian economic success story.
Indeed, no major racial unrest has occurred since 1969 and neither has the Muslim-majority country seen large terrorist attacks.
But criticism has grown over detentions that are often unexplained, apparently aimed at stifling legitimate dissent, or that target small-time criminals in an abuse of the intent of such laws.
Torture and other police brutality have been well-documented.
Eager to shore up flagging public support ahead of elections he is expected to call within months, Najib said he would repeal the ISA and work toward reform of the EO.
But no timetables have been given and there are fears that many detainees could remain in custody under new security measures Najib said would replace the old.
Nazri Aziz, Najib's minister for legal affairs, indicated that was a possibility, but urged patience as the new laws are worked out.
In the meantime, families are in "limbo," said Abdul Razak, whose 29-year-old son was detained last year under the ISA for allegedly recruiting people for Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asian terror group with Al-Qaeda links.
"(The laws) not only break the detainee in the detention camp, but they also break the families," said Abdul Razak, 53, who has been shown no evidence justifying the detention.
Nalini Elumalai, an activist campaigning to abolish the security laws, said the wrongful use of the EO to address petty crime is routine, although no figures are available.
Lawsuits by former detainees under both laws typically fail in the courts, she adds.
"This is the reality of a judicial system in which detainees cannot expect to get any relief from detention without trial," she said.
Ganasari admitted her husband "is no angel," citing his 1994 arrest for fencing stolen goods, but she insisted six years in jail had reformed him and he had started a scrap-metal business.
She said police had sent Ravichandran on a farcical, 18-day "roadshow" around police stations across the country, seeking anyone who would corroborate his guilt on the stolen goods allegation.
No one did, but police gave him two years' EO detention anyway. Ganasari fears that will be extended later.
Najib's announcement has sparked new calls by the political opposition and activists for the government to go further and fully repeal the EO, the Sedition Act and other controversial restrictions.
And while Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has ruled out any government apologies for past detentions, calls for such a gesture are growing.
"Removing the laws is not enough. What about the families the authorities destroyed or are destroying as a result of the arrests they made and the stigma of being labelled an ISA detainee?" said Norlaila Othman.
Her husband, former civil servant Mat Sah Mohamad Satray, was detained for seven years under the ISA for alleged JI links until his 2009 release.
Mat Sah, who declined comment due to rules barring past detainees from speaking to the media, now performs odd jobs, unable to find better work due to the ISA stigma.
An official apology and compensation for all past detainees is "the only way that those hurt by these draconian laws can forgive," Norlaila said.
About Romen Bose
A former Indochina Bureau Chief and correspondent for Channel NewsAsia, Romen Bose has written extensively on the Second World War in Singapore and has been involved in researching Singapore and the region’s military history for close to two decades. His books include, Fortress Singapore: A Battlefield Guide and A Will for Freedom: The Indian Independence Movement in Southeast Asia. He has also worked with the United Nations and more recently, the Singapore Tourism Board.