Mum cries for filial son to be released from terror charge

Rani Thanimalai being consoled by Bukit Tengah assemblyman Gooi Hsiao Leung. With them is her husband, Mahalingam Govindasamy, and her daughter, Punaghi.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: It was a teary moment for the mother of a 29-year-old security guard who was detained without trial for allegedly supporting the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) terrorist group.

Rani Thanimalai, 60, said her son, Pumugan Mahalingam, was never a terrorist but the sole breadwinner supporting their family, including his invalid grandmother at the Kampung Ladang Juru estate.

She said her family could not grapple on the fact that Pumugan was facing a life in prison sentence over something he did not do.

“It has been 35 days today that he is in jail. He did not do anything wrong. We want him bailed out.

“Pumugam gets into fits every now and then as he has epilepsy. I am worried he will not get proper treatment in jail,” she said at the Bukit Tengah PKR service centre here with her husband, Mahalingam Govindasamy, 60.

Rani said Pumugam was the only one supporting the family financially, after their daughter Punaghi, 32, had married and left to stay with her husband in Kulim, Kedah.

Pumugan was charged under Section 130JB(1)(a) of the Penal Code for possession of materials associated with a terrorist group, and Section 130J(1)(a) of the same code for soliciting or supporting any terrorist group.

The latter section carries a life in a prison sentence if convicted, while the prior section (130JB) carries a seven-year jail sentence. The charges were laid out against him in separate Sessions Courts in Butterworth and Kuala Lumpur.

Pumugan was first arrested by police under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, which allows detention without trial on Oct 12. He was subsequently charged in court on Oct 29.

Meanwhile, Pumugan’s family lawyer Gooi Hsiao Leung, who is also the Bukit Tengah assemblyman, said Sosma was an unjust and draconian law that ought to be repealed or at best amended to allow bail for suspects to safeguard the fundamental rights of an accused.

“The criminal trial for Pumugan might take one or two years. We are depriving his rights as an accused by denying him bail. He is innocent until proven guilty.

“He should be released on bail and reunited with his family. What is happening goes against the spirit of the New Malaysia,” he said.

Gooi said Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s proposal to reduce the detention without trial from 28 days to 14 days was meaningless as it still deprived the accused of his rights.