by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, October 8, 1995:
Disappointed by the composition and terms of reference, of the Independent Board of Visitors for the eight immigration detention centres
I am very disappointed by the composition and terms of reference of the Independent. Board or Visitors for the eight immigration detention centres announced by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayob yesterday.
He had broken his undertaking,given publicly as well as in his letter to me dated August. 30, that the composition of the Independent Board of visitors would be suoh as to command instant public confidence.
In his letter dated August, 30, Megat said: “Saya berjanji unt.uk menentukan bahawa Jawatankuasa Pelawat. Bebas ini benar-benar dianggotai oieh semua pihak termasUKIah ahli-ahli pembangkang dan iuga pemimpin NGO.”
The 12-member panel announced by Megat yesterday did not contain Opposition members or credible NGO representatives and not give confidence that it would really be “independent”.
The composition of the board is such that I wonder whether the appointment of three media representatives is designed to better control mass media coverage or conditions in the immigration detention camps or whether to improve them.
The terms of reference of the Independent Board of Visitors is also most unsatisfactory, as it is clear that it would be completely outside its powers to inquire into the 46 deaths in the immigration detention camps reported, till August this year.
The Board’s credibility is not being served so long as the issue of the causes of the 46 deaths in the immigration detention centres remains a national and international controversy and unresolved, and the government, continues to refuse to allow an independent, inquiry into the matter.
I told the CID Director, Datuk Syed Awang and the Special Investigations Section head, Superintendent Abu Bakar who is heading the team investigating into Tenaganita director, Irene Fernandez, that it is most unsatisfactory for the police to be conducting the investigations when an independent inquiry should be established tor the purpose.
The long delay in the establishment of the Independent Board of visitors raises the question whether the Home Ministry is serious about allegations of maltreatment of illegal immigrants in the immigration detention centres.