Several Pakatan Rakyat leaders are accused of allegedly manipulating a grieving father's plight to seek justice.
PETALING JAYA: A father who lost his daughter to a freak accident in 2009 at the Kuala Dipang 1Malaysia camp has taken several Pakatan Rakyat leaders to task for allegedly manipulating his plight to seek justice.
T Nathan, who lost his daughter Dinadevi to the accident, slammed his own lawyer and Perak DAP vice-chairman A Sivanesan, for allegedly making money and gaining political mileage from the case.
Dinadevi, 11, along with M Devatharshini, 11, and V Divyashree, 12, drowned after a suspension bridge at the Kuala Dipang 1Malaysia camp gave way, causing them to fall into the Kampar river that flowed below.
The kids were on a four-day 1Malaysia camp organised by the Education Ministry to foster better ties between the various races in the country.
Soon after the incident, many Pakatan leaders were quick to condemn the Barisan Nasional government for its negligence on the matter.
Sivanesan, it was reported, had offered free legal aid to the families of victims in their effort to seek justice from the government over the incident.
On Nov 20, 2009, the families had filed a RM105 million suit alleging negligence on the part of 10 parties including the government.
However the case was settled out of court and FMT learnt that each family received RM100,000 in compensation.
However, soon after the out-of-court settlement, Sivanesan allegedly sent an invoice to the families claiming RM19,080 from each of them as a legal fees.
Speaking to FMT, Nathan said sending the invoice was unfair as Sivanesan himself had gone on record to say that he would provide free legal aid for them.
“It is very unfair because they made use of our case to gain political mileage… they used us and now we are being charged for it. We were at one point even asked to go and speak at ceremahs.
“We have asked for help from many of these leaders who shared the ceramah stages with us. But all have washed their hands…we even went to the former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin but he told us that this issue was not his business,” said Nathan.
“I still remember during a ceramah at Bidor in 2009, Gobind Singh [the Puchong DAP MP] said that Pakatan leaders never retract from upholding justice to the three families. However, now none of them care about us, they even refuse to answer our phone calls,” he alleged.
However, Nathan admitted that the three families had signed a letter agreeing that an eight percent fee be paid to Sivanesan’s law firm from the total compensation amount as legal fees.
“However, now he want us to pay more than the eight percent. Two weeks ago I paid RM15,000 to Sivanesan’s law firm after he threatened to sue me over the failure to pay legal fees.
“All three families have paid… Sivanesan has earned RM49,000 from the three families. I paid RM15,000 while another family paid the same amount. The third family paid RM19,000 as billed,” he claimed.
Nathan said his anger was not because he was asked to fork out the money, but the way Pakatan leaders politicised the issue, gaining political mileage, and charging the families for it.
“They used me for publicity and sympathy but now I am nothing for them,” said the vexed father.
‘Not legal fees’
Meanwhile, Sivanesan, when contacted, declined to comment on the matter, citing solicitor-client relations.
However it is learnt that the charges imposed on Nathan and the other two parents are not legal fees.
The charges were meant for transport and disbursement charges.
It is also learnt that Sivanesan has a warrant signed by all three parents that gives him the authority.
Nathan and the other two parents would have received monetary awards and with cost if they had paid legal fees.
In addition, the loss of the children is not equivalent to loss of income.
Under these circumstances, even the courts would grant cost to parties who had bore the cost. In this case, it is the counsel – Sivanesan.