INTERVIEW National laureate A Samad Said has lamented the Malay community’s apparent apathy when a member of their own becomes a victim of custodial death.

Samad, who is more fondly known as Pak Samad, said this is apparent in the case of Customs officer Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed and political aide Teoh Beng Hock, who both died under mysterious conditions after plunging to their death from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) buildings.

He said following Teoh’s death, the NGOs from the Chinese community had been vocal in demanding for justice, but the same passion is not seen among Malay NGOs in Ahmad Sarbaini’s case.

“I don’t know why Malay NGOs often do not take this up, I think there are many Malay NGOs that go in a different direction.

“Malays have also suffered the same fate as Teoh but perhaps there is a lack of attention among Malays on the matter.

“The Chinese community is more aware this is a problem that needs to be tackled and resolved or else it will keep repeating and that is bad for democracy,” he said.

Samad (left) attributed this apathy to a lack of awareness concerning human rights and admitted that getting Malay NGOs interested is a challenge.

However, he suggested that they emulate NGOs such as the Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy which he leads.

The 79-year-old also criticised those who were focussed on the afterlife but paid little attention to the issue of custodial deaths.

Elaborating on his own NGO, Samad said a fund-raising dinner will be held on Dec 5.

He added the Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy is not solely in assisting Teoh’s family but also helps other custodial death victims and to raise awareness on the issue.

“That is what we can do as we are constrained by limited funds.

“We have already been to Johor and Penang to raise awareness, not to incite,” joked Samad in reference to the government’s recent crackdown against critics under the Sedition Act.

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Source: Malaysiakini