LFL: New Malaysia, but what about navy cadet who died in training?

Human rights lawyer Latheefa Koya.

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today questioned the apparent standstill in investigations into the death of a Royal Malaysian Navy cadet trainee, saying there has been no feedback on the matter now for one and a half months.

Noting that Aug 31 marks Malaysia’s first independence day celebration under a new government, LFL executive director Latheefa Koya said for some “ordinary Malaysians”, nothing had changed.

“During this time, the first independence celebration of Malaysia Baru, how does the family of the late Soosaimanicckam Joseph feel?” she said.

In a statement, she said Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu had “passed the buck” to the police, who classified the case as sudden death and “have been dragging their feet over the ‘investigation’ ever since”.

“Meanwhile Soosai’s family grieves and wonders why their son died so pointlessly despite his great fervour to serve our country’s armed forces.

“Poor Soosai – he died for his country, and nobody cares.

“There is more to Merdeka than pomp, pageantry, processions and platitudes. Have we truly achieved it?”

Latheefa was one of the lawyers for Soosaimanicckam’s family, who raised the issue of his death last month.

The 27-year-old died on May 19 after sending a WhatsApp message to his brother just days earlier claiming that he and his fellow trainees were tortured in the early hours of the day.

His family members said there were bumps on his forehead which had not been there before he joined the navy for training at its Lumut base in Perak on May 12.

His brother Charles said on the morning of his death, Soosaimanicckam was very sick and wanted to go to a hospital.

This was not approved and he was told to continue with physical training, which led to him fainting, added Charles.

He said his brother died shortly after while on the way to the hospital.

Latheefa said no reasonable explanation was given for Soosaimanicckam’s death. “He was a perfectly healthy 27-year-old and suddenly the family was told that he had died of pulmonary oedema (water accumulation in the lungs),” she said.

She said Soosaimanicckam was picked for cadet training after applying and re-applying over a period of five years.

“His qualifications were excellent, both academically and physically. He was one of only seven Malaysian Indians selected for his batch. Now there are six.

“In the wake of this terrible tragedy for the family of Soosaimanicckam, all they want now is justice; just a plain and true answer as to why he died.”