Preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin today lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and made a police report regarding the alleged assault he experienced while being detained in Kajang Prison.
Wan Ji and Sevan Doraisamy, executive director of NGO Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), arrived at the Suhakam office around 10am to submit a memorandum asking the commission to investigate the issue.
Their memorandum was received by Suhakam Commissioner Madeline Berma, and the Assistant Secretary of the Complaints and Monitoring Group, Muhammad Faiz Abdul Rahman.
According to Wan Ji, he decided to file a police report after Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin urged him to do so.
He also lodged a complaint with Suhakam, so that the latter could push the government to improve the situation.
He said he originally did not want to lodge a report, as the officer of the Prisons Department had met with him and promised to investigate this case.
“But if Suhakam and the police can come in to investigate this case, this issue could be raised to the public, (and) not only (be) an internal investigation.”
“So I accepted Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s advice, to lodge a complaint and report on this.”
However, he reiterated, the aim of lodging a complaint and report was not to punish the warden who allegedly beat him, but rather to prevent the recurrence of violence in prison.
“I want to stress that, the main purpose for me to lodge a report, is to prevent it from happening to others.
“I also sympathise with the warden who beat me; like I said before, I hope he will not lose his job because of this case. Maybe he has his family to feed, if he loses the job, it might be difficult for him.”
Wan Ji claims he was assaulted by a prison warden on his first day in jail by an individual wearing a mask and the uniform of a warden in his cell.
He was initially sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment on a 2014 sedition charge over a Facebook post about Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah of Selangor.
However, his sentence was enhanced to a year on July 8 this year after the Shah Alam High Court allowed a cross-appeal by the prosecution.
The cross-appeal was made on April 9, 2018, when the BN administration still held office.
The preacher began his jail term on the day his sentence was extended, but was later released on July 12 after his lawyers formally filed a stay on the sentence.
Commissioner Berma agreed with Wan Ji, saying: “Firstly, a public officer can’t do that (use violence), we have our standard operating procedure (SOP).”
“It’s not the problem of an individual, it is about the collective, including the other wardens who laughed and let this happen.”
“We cannot just find a culprit and sack him while other people continue (to misbehave).”
She claimed the same issue happened frequently, although victims would usually go unheard.
“Only when a person like you who is popular encounters such an incident, who knows the leaders and lodges a report – if we still refuse to do something, then our society will continue as it is,” said Madeline.
Apart from the physical assault, Suaram urged Suhakam to pay attention to the continued use of the Sedition Act 1948 and the restriction of freedom of expression that comes with it.
The NGO’s executive director Sevan rebutted Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, who had said that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had not received a written representation from Wan Ji or his lawyer, and thus had been unable to review his case.
Sevan revealed Suaram had sent a series of letters to the chambers in July, August and October 2018, to raise concerns about the ongoing prosecution under the Sedition Act 1948 and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
“The chambers’ office replied to these letters and directed Suaram to communicate with Dato Mohamad Hanafiah bin Zakaria on the matter.
“Suaram was then given to understand through a telephone call that the case against Wan Ji under the Sedition Act 1948 and (artist-activist) Fahmi Reza under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 would not be withdrawn by the chambers,” he said.
Thus, he requested that Suhakam raise concerns about the continued use of the Sedition Act 1948.
Sevan also expressed hope that the commission would release a statement opposing the continued use of all draconian laws, as well as support the call for a moratorium on such laws. – Malaysiakini