Pusat Serenti Tampin – Hell on Earth

The DAP welcomes the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Bill 1984, for we hope that it marks the beginning of a new government attitude which accepts the principle that legislation is not the sole prerogative of the government of the day, but must involve the widest public participation in the deliberation and formulation stage even before they are debated in Parliament.

We hope that the Government would not set up select Committees merely for X-films, divorce laws, and now drug legislation, but also on Bills with wide-ranging constitutional, economic, human rights and political implications, like constitutional amendments, the recent Civil Law Amendment Bill, even the Companies Amendment Bill, so that Parliament will not merely operate as a rubber stamp of the Executive, but participates actively in law-making.

The establishment of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Bill 1984 also reflect a praiseworthy awareness on the part of the government that the war against the drugs menace cannot succeed if there is no public support.

The DAP, and I am sure the whole population, give the fullest support to the government’s effort to wipe out the drug menace, for it is not only the government’s war, it is the country’s war, so that drugs would not destroy the fibre of Malaysians and wreck the very social fabric of our nation.

But I must warn the government that the government could lose the support of the people in the anti-drug war if it is unable to check and eliminate gross abuses of power, creating public revulsion and antagonism instead.

The best example of the failure of the government to check abuses in the anti-drug campaign, which is threatening the forfeiture of public support to the government’s campaign, is the case of Pusat Serenti Tampin, the one-stop rehabilitation drug centre.

In June and July last year, I publicly exposed how inmates at the Pusat Serenti Tampin were subject to the most unspeakable brutalities and inhuman treatment by the Pusat Serenti Tampin staff, to the extent that inmates swallowed cut glass from broken bottles and rusty nails to escape from being returned to Pusat Serenti Tampin.

The highest authorities, including the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Musa Hitam, gave public assurance that the Pusat Serenti Tampin was still at an experimental stage but no one would be allowed to take the law into his own hands.

On September 14 this year, the Pusat Serenti Tampin was officially opened by Datuk Musa and I was very pleased to accept the invitation to visit Pusat Serenti Tampin. What I saw impressed me, and I said so to the Deputy prime Minister and the Centre authorities, but who is to know that in less than two weeks, the public will again be shocked into realising that the brutalities and physical violence meted out to inmates at Pusat Serenti Tampin had not ceased, although it was not on so big a scale and involving so many Pusat staff as the beginning of the Centre last year.

Like all Malaysians, I am still waiting for the result of police investigations into the death of Tee Kian Eng, 32, from Malacca, who was committed to the Pusat Serenti Tampin by the Malacca Magistrate on Tuesday, 25th September 1984, on the request of his businessman father, Tee Kim Lwi, 58, who was admitted to the Tampin General Hospital less than seven hours after he arrived at the Pusat Serenti Tampin with critical injuries, transferred to the Seremban General Hospital and died the next day at about about 6 a.m. of ‘severe cerebral concussion’.


Tee Kim Lwi, the father, is particularly aggrieved for he holds himself responsible for his son’s death, although he wanted to do the best for his son and society by sending him to the Pusat Serenti Tampin for drug rehabilitation.

The whole of Malacca is upset that Pusat Serentin Tampin has become a torture and death chamber, especially at what appears to be another attempt to ‘cover-up’ the crimes committed there against the inmates.

Undisclosed official sources have claimed in the Malay Mail that Tee Kian Eng could have died of an ‘overdose of drugs’. How could this be when from September 13 to September 19, Tee Kian Eng was in custody of Pusat Serenti Tampin, and from September 19 to September 25, in the custody of the Melaka Tengah Police Station. Is it being officially suggested that during the 12 days that Kian Eng was in custody, either at Pusat Serenti Tampin or Melaka Tengah Police Station, drugs were freely available. This then calls for an official inquiry into the Pusat Serenti Tampin and the Melaka Tengah Police Station.

Last week, another inmate of Pusat Serenti Tampin, Mohamed Nazir Nazar Alikhan, 24, lodged a police report alleging that he was psychically tortured at the Centre. He alleged that he was assaulted with canes and bamboo poles on September 28 by at least four corporals at the centre’s field and in public view on September 28 and he suffered a broken left hand and scars all over the body.

I have given to the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, 11 names of Pusat Serenti Tampin staff, from the centre officials, army and social welfare sections, who are most guilty of committing brutalities and physical violence against the inmates.

The public want action from the authorities to ensure that Pusat Serenti Tampin ceases to be a torture chamber or death cell but a centre where drug addicts are given a second lease of life to be restored as useful and productive citizens of the country.

If the government cannot put a stop to abuses of powers in the Pusat Serenti Tampin, how would the people entrust more powers to the Government, although it is for a good cause – to check and eliminate the drug menace?

The Select Committee should look into this aspect with great thoroughness, because public confidence and support in the government’s anti-drug campaign hangs on the trustworthy use of government powers, and the ability to stamp out abuses of power swiftly and effectively.

I have come across a case where an innocent person was framed up by police personnel, who were working in cahoots with his personal enemies, by charging him of being a drug pedlar by the simple method of putting packets of drugs in his car when the police were searching his car.

This person was detained for two months and subsequently released. This case was reported to me, but as he was subsequently released, I did not pursue the matter. But the question we must ask is what safeguards are there to prevent abuses of power whereby innocent people could be framed?

I note that most of the police personnel, getting to quite high ranks, were disciplined in this frame-up case.


I have said that the DAP fully supports the national campaign against the drug menace and we will participate in the Select Committee being set up today.

I wish here to bring up a matter of principle. By all established parliamentary conventions, before the appointments are made with regard to parliamentary committees, the Party leadership concerned must be consulted and its consent sought. In this case, the DAP parliamentary leadership was never consulted or our consent sought with regard to the DAP MP to sit on the Select Committee.

I say this not because the DAP is opposed to Sdr. Lee Lam Thye sitting on the Select Committee. In fact, we believe he can make useful contributions to the Select committee’s deliberations.

But we cannot agree or allow the ruling parties to go behind the back of the DAP parliamentary leadership to make decisions with regard to DAP MP appointments to various Parliamentary committees or delegations, for we do not want the ruling parties to ‘play politics’, to use this as an instrument to cause division in the DAP Parliamentary group.

Everybody knows that for quite some time, the Barisan MPs and government had been trying to create the impression that there is a great split between Lim Kit Siang and Lee Lam Thye, and even in today’s New Straits Times report about the Select Committee appointments, there is a suggestion that Sdr. Lee Lam Thye was appointed to the Select Committee because he is more acceptable to the ruling parties. If this was the basis of the appointment, then it was not bona fide, but made mala fide with the intention of creating divisions and splits in DAP ranks.

Probably, there are those who want to see the DAP split up and riven with internal divisions in the way that UMNO, MCA, Gerakan had been riven with internal divisions, and this is their way of trying to achieve their objective.

This is very sad, for it shows that there are people who would want to play politics even on a matter as serious as the drugs menace in Malaysia.

I call on the Government leadership to respect parliamentary conventions and norms and to consult the DAP Parliamentary leadership on appointments of DAP MPs to Parliamentary committees or delegations. If in future, this parliamentary convention is not observed, then much as we want to contribute to Parliamentary deliberations, we will have no choice but to reject such appointments.

To demonstrate our grave concern about the drugs menace, and our co-operative rather than confrontationist attitude, we will go along with the Select committee appointments this time. I hope the ruling parties will observe in future the basic parliamentary courtesies and decencies vis-a-vis party to enable Parliamentary work to be carried out smoothly.

(Speech by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang in Dewan Rakyat on the establishment of a Select Committee on the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Bill 1984 on October 17, 1984)