FROM 2 to 8 March 2009, the Tamil press highlighted the shocking results of A Kugan’s second autopsy, Hindraf chairperson’s P Waythamoorthy’s illness, and the victory of former plantation workers from Bukit Raja.
Cause of death
Tamil papers gave wide coverage to the news of Kugan’s second autopsy results. Both Tamil Nesan and Malaysia Nanban carried editorials on the matter. Kugan’s death: Bring those responsible to justice was the title of the 6 March Tamil Nesan editorial.
“The 11 police officers suspected of causing Kugan’s death should be charged soon,” it stated bluntly. “The victim’s family should get the justice it deserves, and most important of all, the public’s loss of confidence in the police should be reinstated by the thoroughness and fairness of the investigation into the matter.”
Malaysia Nanban‘s editorial on the same day was titled Justice should be served in the investigation of Kugan’s death. It reckoned that the authorities would never have imagined the consequences of 22-year-old Kugan’s death while in police custody.
It took a swipe at Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s statement that Kugan’s death was being turned into a political issue by certain parties. “As far as Kugan’s death is concerned, judging by the comments by component parties within the ruling government, opposition party members, the Bar Council and human rights activists, it looks like these comments were made out of concern for the public good.”
Mourners at Kugan’s funeral on 28 Jan 2009
Malaysia Nanban also managed to interview Kugan’s mother in the report, I am suffering from the loss of my eldest child. “I think of how my son must have suffered, the pain he must have gone through. I can’t sleep properly because every time I close my eyes, I keep seeing the scars on my son’s body,” said N Indra.
She said she was shocked to find out the contents of the second autopsy. “I never even laid a finger on my son when he was growing up. I brought him up with much love. But these heartless police officers beat my son to death … the pain is too much that sometimes I feel like dying,” Indra said.
If last week Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar, an Internal Security Act detainee, hogged the headlines with his illness, this week it was his brother Waythamoorthy’s turn.
Waythamoorthy has been living in exile in London and has not returned to Malaysia, fearing arrest. His battle with heart disease made headlines in all the papers on 6 March, with Tamil Nesan and Malaysia Nanban giving more prominence to the story.
Waythamoorthy deteriorates was Malaysia Nanban‘s headline. Tamil Nesan‘s headline read: Waythamoorthy asks to be allowed to return home. He is suffering from severe heart problem; while Makkal Osai‘s headline read: Waythamoorthy’s health deteriorates.
(Source: med.stanford.edu) All stories carried a picture of Waythamoorthy in a hospital bed.
Tamil Nesan followed up with an editorial on 7 March titled The government should allow Waythamoorthy to return home. What was surprising about this editorial was that prior to the 8 March general election last year, Tamil Nesan, which is closely aligned to MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu, was highly critical of all Hindraf leaders, including Waythamoorthy.
“Hindraf leader P Waythamoorthy, who is suffering from severe heart problems, has expressed interest to return to Malaysia … to receive medical treatment in Malaysia. The government should, on the basis of humanity, allow him to return to his homeland,” said the paper.
The paper pointed out that in the past, Malaysia has proven its humanity by providing medical treatment to foreigners. It urged the government to show the same kindness to its own citizen.
Victory to the people
After 10 years the people of the Bukit Raja plantation achieve victory was a heartwarming story in Makkal Osai on 3 March that highlighted the hard-fought victory of former plantation workers.
In 1996, the Bukit Raja plantation was divided up and sold off to developers. At the time there were 300 families who had lived in the plantation for three generations.
Almost 70% of the affected families moved to low-cost flats built by the developer, Sime Darby. But 71 families requested that they be given terrace houses instead.
“In our old age we cannot live in flats. We are the people who worked hard for the development of this estate. We only want terrace houses,” said the affected families.
Makkal Osai noted that the families experienced hardship while the land around them was being developed for high- and middle-end residential homes: “Among the hardships faced were water and electricity cuts and the deterioration of roads. Due to development, the families also faced severe flooding during the rainy seasons. The floods caused illnesses.”
Despite all this, the people were united and they never wavered in their fight for their rights. After a decade, the developer has finally agreed to build low-cost terrace houses with facilities for the families. The signing ceremony between the developer and the residents took place recently in the Meru community hall near Kapar, Klang.
“Despite the many difficulties and hardships, these families refused to budge from their stand and stood firm and united until they achieved this remarkable victory. The Bukit Raja plantation workers are an example to the other plantation workers who face the same problems,” said the paper in admiration.