Malaysia's top court maintains compensation to opposition MP for wrongful arrest and detention

Malaysian opposition politician Teresa Kok being interviewed by the media in Malaysia on May 6, 2014.
Malaysian opposition politician Teresa Kok being interviewed by the media in Malaysia on May 6, 2014. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia's highest court on Tuesday (July 11) ruled in favour of opposition MP Teresa Kok, affirming a RM350,000 (S$113,000) compensation awarded to her for her wrongful arrest and detention in 2008, reported the Malay Mail Online.

The Federal Court dismissed the government's bid to appeal a decision last July awarding the compensation, bringing to a close an eight-year battle by the Democratic Action Party (DAP) politician.

"The application is dismissed. The law is settled," said Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum in delivering the three-man panel's unanimous decision.

On July 26, 2016, the Court of Appeal had reversed the High Court's previous decision to dismiss Ms Kok's lawsuit, after finding that the authorities did not have sufficient grounds to arrest her.

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"I think justice has been done to me after waiting for nine years,

“I was arrested under ISA in 2008 and now it's 2017. So after nine years, I have to thank the judges, thank also my lawyer who have been fighting for me on this case for nine years,” the MP for Seputeh told reporters immediately after the court's decision.

“This is my happiest day,” she later added.

Ms Kok had filed a civil suit in March 2009 against the Malaysian government, the then Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Syed Albar, then Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and police officer DSP E Kim Tien for damages over her alleged wrongful arrest and detention.

The appellate court had awarded RM350,000 to Ms Kok after finding the government liable for her wrongful arrest and seven-day detention in 2008 under the now-abolished Internal Security Act (ISA).

In her statement of claim, Ms Kok said that she was arrested by the defendants at 11.15pm on September 12, 2008, and was not allowed to contact her lawyer or relatives during a two-hour detention that followed.

She said she was informed at 2am the next day at the Wangsa Maju police station that she was being detained under section 73(1) of the ISA for allegedly taking part in activities that could cause racial tension. According to news site The Star, she was arrested for allegedly asking, in February 2008, for a mosque to lower the volume at which the 'azan' or Muslim call to prayer was played.  

Ms Kok said she was then detained without trial at a secret location until her release on September 19, 2008.

She said that her arrest had been conducted negligently and arbitrarily, causing her severe mental stress, pain and suffering.