By B. Nantha Kumar | Malaysiakini

Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has denied that the Immigration Department violated a court order when signing an order to deport Bangladeshi opposition politician MA Quayum.

According to the minister, the order was just part of a process practised by the department and did not mean that Quayum would be returned to his home country immediately.

Saifuddin explained that after police arrested Quayum and handed over to the Immigration Department, the latter informed Quayum that he would be deported as his passport had been cancelled.

“However, the Immigration Department is tied to a court order as he (Quayum) brought the case to court.

“So, we will not send Quayum back until the court verdict on his status in Malaysia is decided upon. Thus, it is not true that the Immigration Department violated a court order,” he told a press conference in Putrajaya yesterday.

Saifuddin further urged the media to act fairly toward his ministry, after reporting that Quayum would be deported which is in violation of a court order.

He lamented that the report had caused some quarters to view him as “useless”.

MA Quayum

Malaysiakini recently reported that the Immigration Department had signed off on an order to deport the Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader, who is a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees cardholder.

This was despite the Kuala Lumpur High Court granting a stay of deportation to Quayum.

According to documents sighted by Malaysiakini, the deportation order was signed on Jan 24, six days after the High Court’s decision.

Family knows Quayum’s whereabouts

Quayum’s family and lawyers were only informed of the order on Tuesday.

Elaborating, Saifuddin said that the Immigration Department had told Quayum’s lawyer that it would abide by the court order.

“This means that Quayum would not be sent back until the court has decided on his status,” he added.

Quayum’s habeas corpus application is set to be heard on April 5.

Saifuddin further rubbished reports that said Quayum’s family were not informed of his whereabouts.

He said the politician’s wife and lawyer were allowed to visit Quayum at the immigration detention depot on two separate days.

“Therefore, the question about not knowing Quayum’s whereabouts does not arise.”

Yesterday, immigration authorities assented to a court application not to deport Quayum.

The undertaking was given by the Immigration Department’s legal representative, deputy public prosecutor Nor’ Amalina Ismail at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

‘Systematic crackdown’

Quayum was apprehended in a joint operation conducted by the Malaysian police and the National Security Intelligence (NSI) of Bangladesh on Jan 12 at his residence in Ampang.

Human rights organisation Suaram previously alleged that Quayum’s detention request was part of a systematic crackdown by the Bangladeshi government against political opposition.

Quayum has reportedly been under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme since 2015.

However, documents show that his MM2H pass was revoked after he was detained one day after the stay order was issued.

Quayum is at the Semenyih Immigration Detention Depot upon personal orders by the minister, who urged for housing outside of prison to ensure he is in a more comfortable location given his health issues.