Monday, September 22, 2008


RM5.80 a day not enough for meals, says Deputy Minister


Seputeh MP Teresa Kok’s claims that she was served meals resembling dog food during her ISA detention have led to an investigation into the quality of food for suspects in police lock-up. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department T Murugiah said he wanted to first determine if it was true that only RM5.80 was allocated for each detainee’s meals per day. “If it is true, then it is definitely not enough especially with the price of goods going up. A detainee needs to have breakfast, lunch and dinner. “Breakfast would cost you at least RM2.50, while a good lunch would be a minimum RM3.50 and dinner RM3.50,” he told a press conference here on Sunday. Murugiah, who is the Public Complaints Bureau head, felt that each detainee should be allocated about RM10 daily for meals. He pointed out that suspects detained to assist investigations had not even been charged in court yet or were considered guilty of any crime. They (detainees) should be treated well. Even in prison, we must treat them as human beings, he said, adding that he would appeal to the Prime Minister and Home Minister to increase the allocation. Murugiah said he and bureau officials would meet Kok on Monday at her Shah Alam service centre to get her statement. The investigation, he said, would include paying a visit to the Jalan Travers police station where she was held and to the restaurant that supplied the food. “We want transparency. I’m quite serious about this and I don’t want this to be swept under the carpet. I’m not happy that this news has gone international,” he said. Murugiah reminded the public that his public complaints bureau (03-8888 7777) had a lot of power to investigate any complaint against any civil servant, ministry or agency. ‘We don’t need to get permission from any ministry. We can just walk in, do the investigation and take immediate action. “If you’re afraid to go to the police or the Anti-Corruption Agency, come to us,” he said. Last week, Kok drew attention to the food she was given during her seven-day detention at the Jalan Travers police station. She was freed on Friday after being accused of petitioning a mosque to reduce the volume for the azan, something she has vehemently denied.

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