A moment of silence


Some of us may still remember the case of Francis Udayappan. He died on 25th April 2005 – death number 498. His case caught our attention. Kugan’s case is death number 1790. In between Francis Udayappan’s and Kugan’s deaths were another 1292 deaths, almost every single one of them unknown to us.

By Nanda

The Fray sings ‘You Found Me’ and I’m transported back to 25th the morgue at University Hospital. That is where I was on that day until close to midnight. And that song, particularly the chorus, was constantly playing in my mind, assaulting me with questions that I could not answer, forcing me to cower inside myself with shame. January 2009 and to

That was the day of A. Kugan’s second autopsy.

His mother was there, a broken shell of a woman. Her face was riddled with questions. Her whole body, however, betrayed the fact that she had resigned herself to accepting the reality that the answers she was seeking would never be found. Two days earlier she had been summoned by the police to Bukit Aman, not for the purpose of investigating the cause of her son’s death but in an attempt to find out how the details of the events that had unfolded in the mortuary of Serdang Hospital had become public. That was the night that she and her family had been alerted about Kugan’s death after a week of desperate searching, and inquiring even of the police about his whereabouts had returned no answers.

A few months later, Teoh Beng Hock was found dead outside the MACC building.

The authorities claim he had committed suicide but the facts speak for themselves. At that time he was about to become a father in a few months. Today, his son will never get to see his father’s face in real life. The stories that would confront the son from the moment he is able to comprehend matters would be those of his father’s death, and of how the very authorities who were supposed to safeguard his father had tried to dismiss it as a case of suicide. The image that would greet him would be that of his father’s body, mainly skull and bones at that stage, being exhumed for a second autopsy by a foreign expert because his father’s generation could not trust the reliability and credibility of their own country’s expert. The voices that he would hear would speak about how even after a year, the inquest was still going on. They would tell how the foreign expert at one stage had refused to testify for fear of her own safety and life, needing to be protected not from other malicious forces but from the government of his father’s country.

Yasmin Ahmad had this to say on the day Beng Hock was found dead:

‘Someone please wake me from this nightmare and tell me that this did not happen in my country and that Teoh Beng Hock is safe at home with his family.’

She too left us nine days after that.

Hours after Teoh Beng Hock’s death, another death in custody was reported. The contrast between the two deceased could not have been any sharper. Gunasegaran worked in a toddy shop in Sentul. He did not have a family to go home to, having left his sister’s place sometime back.

He was picked up at his workplace when the police raided that area looking for drug addicts. Eye-witnesses claimed that he was singled out and assaulted by the police, the final blow being a kick to his chest in the police station, after which he collapsed and never regained consciousness.

Only a handful of us were present at Gunasegaran’s funeral in Sentul. His body was bereft of eyes. Only empty sockets greeted us when the casket was opened. The skin on his face had been stripped off, a result of the autopsy that had been carried out.

These three cases – Kugan, Teoh Beng Hock and Gunasegaran – are part of a larger picture. Today, we know from a ministerial reply in Parliament and subsequent cases that, between 2003 and 16th July 2009, there were 1805 deaths in custody. This translates into an average of 3 deaths every 4 days. And if the trend continues, even as you are reading this, another body is probably being sent to the morgue and with formalities dispensed with, it becomes yet another body packed up, wrapped up and buried, never to be seen or mentioned again.

Read more at: http://www.sayaanakbangsamalaysia.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=417%3Aa-moment-of-silence&catid=1%3Aletters&Itemid=88