Sunday, March 19, 2006

Abandoned by employer and government!

Tan Ngee Foo, a 63-year-old Malaysian and a Penangite, was sent by his Alor Setar employer in 2001 to assess the company’s plan to set up a furniture factory in Zamboanga, Southern Philippines.

While on his way there from Sandakan, Filipino authorities detained and held him for 5 years without trial at Bagong Diwa camp, an immigration detention centre in Manila. While there, Tan has taken ill a number of times when he had to be admitted to hospital.

What was his crime or offence is not known though it’s related to some form of immigration infringement. He hasn’t been charged. His son, Thomas said he had tried to get his father released but hasn’t had any success. The son said:

“We contacted his boss many times. We have also driven from our home in Penang to his company based in Alor Star to seek help but the boss was not around and they have not been cooperative.”

Thomas approached the commissioner of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights, Wilhelm Dabu Soriano, who promised to look into Tan’s case. Later Thomas tried again with the SUHAKAM commissioner S. K. Choo, who contacted his counterpart in the Philippines to remind him of Tan’s unresolved case. Soriano said the commission's lawyer was now taking legal procedures to seek Tan’s release.

My question is what has our Foreign Minister done about securing the release of a Malaysian citizen held without trial in an ASEAN country? Isn’t securing the release of a Malaysian citizen held in a foreign nation more important than securing the prohibition of selling sand to Singapore?

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