Immigration confirms extending Singaporeans’ detention, but denies abuse

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 ― Two Singaporeans were detained beyond their one-day prison sentence due to a separate and ongoing case, the Immigration Department said when rejecting claims of abuse in the matter.

Immigration director-general Datuk Mustafar Ali explained that Quek Chin Fern and her daughter, Cheryl Lim, had on June 19 pleaded guilty to shoplifting in a Kluang court and subsequently sentenced to a day’s imprisonment.

“JIM Johor issued a [detain and deport order] for 14 days for the two detainees to the Prisons Department according to SOP as the transfer of ‘banduan dagang’ (ex prisoner) from prison was delayed due to the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays. The detainees were passed to the Detention Depot on 27/6,” he said in a response to Malay Mail Online on Wednesday evening.

According to the Prisons Department’s website, the term “banduan dagang” refers to foreign nationals who are detained pending deportation and includes those who have completed their jail term and those being held under the Immigration Act.

“At the same time, there is a case related to Immigration that is ongoing and will be decided on 24/7. Subject is detained until the court case is resolved,” he said.

Mustafar was referring to the August 2016 case in which Quek and her two children ― Cheryl and Miguel Lim ― were charged under Section 56(1)(g) of the Immigration Act with allegedly refusing to cooperate with Immigration officials during inspection at the Sultan Iskandar Building Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) checkpoint in Johor at the Malaysia-Singapore border.

Mustafar said the Special Sessions Court at the Pekan Nanas Immigration depot had at the end of the prosecution’s case decided to acquit and release the two children, while Quek was ordered to enter her defence. He noted the decision for her case will be delivered on July 24.

The Immigration also appealed to the High Court against the two children’s acquittal, he said.

He also said Quek was given bail by the court and lives on a special pass along with her children.

“In conclusion, there was no abuse of power towards detainees Quek and her daughter. All detention orders are according to SOP and laws that have been stipulated for foreigners that commit an offence in Malaysia,” he concluded when commenting on the two Singaporeans.

On Monday, local human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) condemned the extended detention of the two Singaporeans as an alleged violation of the Federal Constitution and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Quek’s son, Miguel Lim, told Malay Mail Online of his concerns for his detained 43-year-old mother and sister, both of whom he has not seen since their detention following the June 22 jail sentence. His sister turned 19 on June 25 while in Johor’s Kluang prison, he said.

He said he only managed to speak with Quek once on June 23 after she pleaded with the authorities for a phone call, adding that his mother claimed to have dislocated her arm after her arrest and was allegedly not given medical attention.

As for the August 2016 court case, Miguel said that the trio have been stuck in Malaysia since then as their passports, car, and his handphone were seized. He said Quek is a single parent as his father had passed away.

The trio’s lawyer, Hassan Karim, earlier this week confirmed to Malay Mail Online that Quek’s two children were acquitted on May 8 as the special Sessions court had found that the prosecution had failed to show that there was a prima facie case against them, with their case to now be mentioned in the Johor Baru High Court on July 13 as the prosecution has appealed.

Hassan expressed concern over the “human rights issue” in the duo’s detention, noting that he had written and faxed a letter yesterday morning to the depot’s director to request for a visit, but was informed that he could not visit his clients without clearance from the investigating officer.

Hassan said he managed to obtain permission yesterday from the investigating officer at the Johor Baru CIQ Immigration office for him to see the duo within office hours, but will only be able to visit on Sunday as Friday and Saturday are officially off days in Johor.

Miguel said he went to the depot yesterday to try and visit his mother and sister, but was not allowed to do so, adding that he will now leave it to Hassan since the latter had obtained clearance and will be visiting this Sunday.

Miguel said the Singapore High Commission was however allowed to visit his family yesterday, claiming that it was the second time where the embassy requested for medical attention to be given.

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