“…Ramadhan, Rafe, Arif and others serving detention or Restricted Residence Order without trial under the Emergency Ordinance can only continue to pray that they will be able to celebrate the next Hari Raya with their families.”
While most of us are looking forward to celebrating Hari Raya with family and friends next week, two mothers are bracing themselves to celebrate the festive occasion without their sons for the first time. 

Rani Rahmah Ismail, 59, from Selayang is preparing some kuih raya to be brought to her sons, who have been banished to Kedah and Pahang respectively under the Emergency Ordinance 1969 for alleged motorcycle theft.

Her sons – Mohd Ramadhan Mohd Ali, 22, and Mohd Rafe Mohd Ali, 20 – have never been charged in an open court for their alleged crimes. Their alleged accomplice, Mohd Arif Abu Samah, 19, has also been expelled to Johor for two years.

“I’ve been praying day and night for their early return,” said Rani, who has daily telephone conversations with Ramadhan and Rafe.

Mohar: Lodged a police report on March 25.Injuries sustained by the trio while in custody.

The worst is the stigma surrounding the boys. 

Detention without trial

Arif and the brothers were first arrested on March 3 at their homes and detained for a week at the Gombak police station without being charged. This is in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code, which requires police to apply for a remand order from the magistrate’s court 24 hours of the arrest if they are unable to complete their investigation in time.

When the trio were finally brought to the Selayang magistrate’s court, they were served a remand order for three days at the Kepong police station and for two days at the Bukit Jalil Remand Centre, before being brought back to the Gombak police station to be released.

Their families were not informed of their whereabouts throughout the detention period.

On March 18, the three men were re-arrested under Section 3(1) of the Emergency Ordinance for 60 days.

“We were slapped, kicked and beaten by the police during interrogation.

They wanted to force us to confess to a crime which we didn’t commit,” claimed the trio in their affidavits.

Ramadhan added that the police had coerced them into signing documents that they were prohibited from reading, and were not told that they had a right not to sign it.

In addition, they were not informed that they had the right to secure legal representation.

To add insult to injury. Ramadhan and Rafe’s family lost RM13,000 when a person who posed as a police officer asked the working-class family to pay the “police bail” for the brothers’ release.

“Inspector Zulkifli” disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared after collecting the money. This “Inspector Zulkifli” had also called Arif ‘s family, Arif ‘s family, but his parents had been unable to raise the RM15,000 demanded.

Rafe and Ramadhan’s eldest brother, Mohar Md Ali, 36, said they had lodged a police report on March 25. Their case was highlighted by the media in May, but they have yet to receive any updates on the investigation from the police.

When the 60-day detention ended, Arif, Ramadhan and Rafe were each served a Restricted Residence Order dated May 16, 2011 for two years, on the grounds that they are a threat to “public order” around Batu Caves.


“The police instructed us to go back, pack up and report to the [respective] local police station [where we have been banished to] on the next day (May 17),” said Arif in his affidavit.

Arif now lives in exile in Mersing, Johor (a five-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur); Rafe in Kulim, Kedah (a four-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur), and Ramadhan in a kampung in Chenor, Pahang (a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur).

They must stay within the district, report to the local police station every week, and stay indoors from 8pm to 6am every day for the next two years.

Their Restriction Residence Order could be extended if they are found to have breached any of the restrictions to their movement.
“Ramadhan and Rafe wanted to come back to celebrate Hari Raya with us, but I told them not to risk risk it,” said Mohar.

Mohar has written several appeal letters on behalf of his brothers, and has sent them ally to the Home Ministry in Putrajaya.

“I want to appeal to the government to release my brothers. Charge them in court if they are guilty, but don’t [arbitrarily] detain and banish them,” he said in exasperation.

Mohar said even criminals who are alleged to have committed more serious crimes such as rape are allowed to be bailed when charged in court, yet his brothers have been detained and banished without trial.

Arif ‘s father, father, Abu Samah, 47, is also outraged by the police’s overreaction over an alleged motorcycle theft.

“My son didn’t have any criminal record, nor has he been arrested previously. Even if the police think he’s guilty, he should be given a chance to defend himself in court,” said Abu, who works as a lorry driver.

Ramadhan and Rafe came out to work to support their mother having completed their SPM examinations a few years ago, but today they can barely support themselves with their meagre monthly income, much less support their mother.

Arif now stays in a hostel in Mersing, paying RM300 a month for rental, and works in a restaurant for living.

Rafe works in a factory in Kulim for RM430 a month and rents a room in a terrace house for RM220 per month.

“Ramadhan has it toughest.

He lives in an old wooden house in the kampung, paying RM100 a month for it, but his income from painting cars [in an automotive workshop] is not stable,” said Rani.

Challenging the EO

In Ramadhan’s case, it did not take long for the kampung locals to find out that he had been expelled from Selangor.

“The youths are okay, but their parents would warn them against making friends with me,” said Ramadhan in a brief phone interview.

“We’re not greedy, we just want a fair trial,” he said.

Apart from adults, juveniles have also been detained and had their movement restricted under the Emergency Ordinance, such as in the case of Jiegandran Panier Selvan, who was only 17 when he was arrested for alleged motorcycle theft.

His case received widespread media attention in mid-2010, and the Home Ministry later transferred the boy from Lenggang back to his hometown in Kajang to serve his two-year Restricted Residence Order from March 2010 to March 2012.

Ramadhan, Rafe and Arif are suing the Malaysian government and police over their two-year Restricted Residence Order with the help of human rights lawyers.

They are seeking a declaration that the restriction order is null and void, and that the Prime Minister and the federal government should advise the King to cancel the Emergency Proclamation. The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia had in 2009 urged the government to review the Emergency Ordinance, which was enacted during the state of emergency in 1969.

Civil society groups have also described the law as archaic. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has been advocating for its abolition along with the more well-known preventive law, the Internal Security Act (ISA), on the grounds that detention without trial is a breach of human rights.

The Home Ministry has thrice said it would table amendments to the Emergency Ordinance, the ISA and the Dangerous Drugs Act: firstly in June 2009, then in June 2010, and most recently on Aug 5 this year.

In the meantime, Ramadhan, Rafe, Arif and others serving detention or Restricted Residence Order without trial under the Emergency Ordinance can only continue to pray that they will be able to celebrate the next Hari Raya with their families.

This report was originally published in the Selangor Times.

Freelance journalist/researcher. Environmental columnist with The Nut Graph.