Kit Siang dares Najib to guarantee ex-airman’s safety
July 20, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 — Lim Kit Siang today challenged the prime minister to give an “iron-clad guarantee” that N. Tharmendran would be absolutely safe on bail while awaiting trial for the theft of two jet engines.
The DAP parliamentary leader said that if Datuk Seri Najib Razak could not guarantee Tharmendran’s safety, that will mean the prime minister’s 1 Malaysia motto “People First, Performance Now” was not credible or legitimate.
“It is a terrible indictment on the system of governance in Malaysia that a person should feel safer in prison custody than to be out as a free man, for fear of being abducted and tortured again by military intelligence officers,” the Ipoh Timur MP said in a press statement.
Former Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Sergeant Tharmendran, who was charged in January for the theft of two RMAF F5-E jet engines, returned to prison yesterday after losing his bid for a court protection order against RMAF officers he claimed intended to abduct him.
His father, N. Nagarajah, withdrew bail on his son’s behalf after the Sessions Court here rejected the ex-airman’s application for a protection order to prohibit RMAF officers from taking him into custody.
He was recently released from prison after winning an appeal early this month at the High Court here to reduce his bail to RM50,000 from the original RM150,000 posted by the Sessions Court on January 6.
Tharmendran, who initially confessed to the crime, later recanted and claimed that he had been tortured by military officers to force him into saying that he had been responsible for the theft.
The 42-year-old former air force sergeant alleged that he was dragged, stripped down to his underwear, and thrown into a freezing cold room and made to admit, repeatedly, that he was guilty.
He also said he was made to wear a crash helmet and was hit with a cricket bat and a golf club three to four times a day.
Lim (picture) said Tharmendran’s fears for his safety have once again brought national and international focus to the “institutional degradation” which the New Economic Model (NEM) identified as one of the causes of Malaysia’s economic stagnation.
“Tharmendran’s personal safety and welfare while he awaits trial for theft of two jet fighter engines has put to the very fore the question whether Malaysia is heading to become a failed state if ‘institutional degradation’ in the country’s system of governance cannot be arrested and reversed,” Lim said.
He said Tharmendran’s case was one of many that casts doubt on the ability and political will of the prime minister to arrest institutional degradation and restore confidence in Malaysia, citing Teoh Beng Hock’s unresolved death as another example.
The ex-airman’s trial was postponed to September 6 after he made an application at the Shah Alam High Court to quash the charges against him at the Sessions Court on grounds that they were “frivolous”.
Tharmendran’s lawyers M. Manogaran and N. Surendran have maintained that their client is merely a scapegoat in a conspiracy involving high-ranking officers.