Image by Dayang Norazhar/The Mole
Newly-appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low says his intention to offer condolence to the family of custodial death victim N. Dharmendran was misconstrued by some quarters who described it as ‘harassment’.
Speaking at a press conference, Low explained that a 'phone call' was made earlier by his colleague from Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) to Dharmendran's family to offer condolences and to see them personally.
"It is for this reason I chose to interact with the family. Unfortunately, someone said we were harassing. How can that happen? Maybe it is unusual and the atmosphere is tense but my intention is sincere.
“I want to see the wife (of the late Dharmendran) or parents just to offer them my condolence. (And) secondly to assure them that as a new minister in charge of human rights, I will raise the issue in Cabinet,” the former president of Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) said.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president N Surendran claimed that Low and Pemandu director D. Ravindran had tried to intimidate the family by offering monetary settlement.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low says he preferred to share the same press conference with Pakatan Rakyat leaders on death custody victim N Dharmendran to prevent any miscommunication.
He told reporters that he had already tried to engage N. Surendran so that they could have the same press conference.
“Actually I was planning to have this PC with their presence. I prefer to clarify it in front of them straight away because I've nothing to hide.
“As a Minister, I'm prepared to do another PC together with them so that they can dispute and I can clarify…that's the best way,” he said, adding that it was unfortunate that the opposition leaders could not be with him.
Low, who acknowledged that his ministerial portfolio is on human rights, governance and integrity, said that it should be right for both parties to have a conversation face-to-face to prevent misinterpretation.
“I strictly want to ensure what we speak is the truth and we want to be accountable for what we say and do.
“We can answer the question through social media but we believe that may not be the best platform and we would like to have a face to face conference,” he said.
Low was commenting on the allegation that he had tried to intimidate Dharmendran’s family by offering money-settlement so that the case could be settled.
Dharmendran, 32, who was arrested on May 10 in connection with a shooting incident in Bandar Tun Razak a few weeks ago, died in the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters lockup on May 21.
Kuala Lumpur chief police officer (CPO) Datuk Mohmad Salleh earlier said a post-mortem examination at Kuala Lumpur Hospital revealed “criminal elements” present in the death of Dhamendran.
Subsequently Surendran claimed that Low and Pemandu director D Ravindran had tried to intimidate the family by offering monetary settlement.
The newly-elected member of parliament for Padang Serai told a press conference that Dharmendran’s father had informed him that an officer from the Prime Minister’s Office had called the family to meet.
However, Low clarified that the call was made by D Ravindran, a director from Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), as an effort to initiate a meeting between the minister and the victim’s family.
Low also stressed out that he has no political agenda nor is he representing any party and his intention was solely to help the family to ensure justice is served for them.
'I’m taking full responsible of everything I initiated. From my side there's no political agenda. This is only a sincere approach. But somehow, I think we were going in to do a court settlement.
“We talked nothing about compensation. And I come from a background of anti bribery. I’m against the covering up of things,” he said.
Commenting on the claim that the wife of the deceased had to bribe a few police officers before she was allowed to meet her husband, Low said that he will ensure that Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) will probe the complaint.
"I would like the MACC to conduct a parallel investigation, given the allegations of possible corruption involved,” Low said.
Surendran said the deceased’s father, G Nagayarasamy, had received calls from an official from Putrajaya asking to meet him “secretly” and told him to stop engaging their current pro-opposition lawyers.