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Uthayakumar’s habeas corpus application dismissed

KUALA LUMPUR, 17 Sept 2008: The High Court today dismissed lawyer P Uthayakumar’s habeas corpus application to release him from Internal Security Act (ISA) detention on grounds of medical neglect.

Justice Suraya Othman in her judgment today said the claim by the applicant that he was denied proper medication, treatment and proper diet by the Taiping Hospital and officials of the Kamunting detention camp was not true and without merit.

She said the respondents, the Home Ministry and the camp officials through numerous affidavits had stated that all complaints by Uthayakumar were thoroughly investigated, diagnosed and proper medications were prescribed by doctors at the hospital.

Suraya said the affidavits also revealed that even the camp officials prepared a suitable vegetarian diet for Uthayakumar, who was diabetic, after the recommendation was made by a dietician.

She said in his initial notice of motion on May 22 this year filed via Messrs Edwin Lim & Suren, Uthayakumar, sought release from ISA detention, or in the alternative (second prayer) to be admitted to the National Heart Institute (IJN) immediately to seek treatment for his diabetes and heart condition.

However, in his affidavit on July 30, he decided not to seek treatment at IJN and wanted the court to substitute the prayer to allow him to seek overseas treatment from a medical practitioner of his own choice.

She said the applicant in the affidavit claimed that he had absolute right to choose medical treatment since local doctors would be subjected to manipulation and pressure from the authorities.

Suraya said the court found the reason given by Uthayakumar to be very alarming since he alleged that he could not trust doctors at the government hospitals and IJN.

“He had alleged that these doctors were incompetent, where the court believes this is an insult to their professionalism.”
She said even Dr G.R. Letchumanan of Taiping Hospital acceded to Uthayakumar’s request to be sent to IJN immediately although the doctor did not feel his (Uthayakumar) condition merited to be referred to IJN.

“Despite two appointments being made to allow him to be seen by two prominent heart specialists at IJN, the applicant, in the eleventh hour, changed his mind and refused to attend.

“This court feels the sudden change in mind by the applicant showed that he was not serious in seeking medical treatment at IJN,” added Suraya.

In the preliminary objection on June 12, senior federal counsel Abdul Wahab Mohamed said the grounds forwarded by the applicant could not come within the legal ambit of an application for a writ of habeas corpus as the deprivation or otherwise of any medical treatment or proper diet had no nexus with the legality of the applicant’s detention.

He had submitted that the writ of habeas corpus was not an available remedy in such a situation and that the applicant had to seek other recourse ie. way of a writ of mandamus.

Suraya concluded that since the court held that the remedy of a writ of habeas corpus was not available to the applicant to challenge the conditions of his detention, therefore Uthayakumar’s application was accordingly dismissed. — Bernama

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