Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok said the successful suit by an ex-Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee against the police and government against his arrest and torture in 1998 should be seen as a wake-up call to those involved in enforcing the law to ensure they do not infringe human rights.
"I think it is within anyone's rights to test if they have a case in court, or what they feel or how they want their grievances to be addressed, " he said.
Dompok was commenting on ex-ISA detainee Abdul Malek Hussin, 51, who won damages amounting to RM2.5 million awarded by the Kuala Lumpur High Court Thursday.
Abdul Malek was awarded RM1 million in general damages for wrongful arrest and detention, RM1 million in exemplary damages, RM500,000 in general damages for assault and ill-treatment and eight per cent interest from Thursday and costs by the High Court.
Dompok said definitely, one of the the good outcomes of a thing of this nature was that those officers who are enforcing the law have to take utmost care so that no human rights will be infringed.
"I think it helps the system do much better," he said. Dompok was asked by reporters to comment on the case after opening a a seminar on Human Rights for leaders of his party, UPKO, in Kota Kinabalu today.
In awarding the RM2.5 million, Judge Datuk Mohd Hishamuddin Mohd Yunus held that Abdul Malek was entitled because his arrest at 10am on Sept 25, 1998 and 57 days of detention under the ISA were unlawful as they were done Mala fide (in bad faith).
He said the interrogation carried out on Abdul Malek was political in nature for intelligence gathering for political purposes and had nothing to do with genuine concern for national security.
Dompok said human rights is one of the issues more and more people are talking about these days and is thus important for every political party to have a better understanding and knowledge about it.
One of the speakers at the seminar, lawyer G K Ganesan told participants that the ISA is no longer relevant and should be repealed.
On this Dompok said,"It is something that we have to discuss and talk about, as until today we have no opportunity to discuss this particular matter and we do want to know more about it."
"So an event like this seminar give us the opportunity to discuss more on this and understand it better."