By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid | Malaysiakini
Refuge for the Refugees founder Heidy Quah (above) found herself in the dock today over her Facebook post on alleged mistreatment of refugees at Immigration detention centres.
Before the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court this morning, the non-governmental organisation’s (NGO) director claimed trial to a charge of improper use of network facilities to upload an offensive statement.
On July 7 last year, it was reported that she was summoned to Bukit Aman, believed to be in connection to her FB post on alleged mistreatment at the centres.
According to the charge read out to her before judge Edwin Paramjothy today, she was accused of committing the offence around 5.30am on June 5, last year.
She was charged under section 233 (1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. According to section 233(3) of the Act, she faces a maximum fine of RM50,000, or jail time of not more than a year, or both, if found guilty.
After Quah, 27, pleaded not guilty to the charge, deputy public prosecutor Noor Dayana Mohamad applied for the court to impose bail at RM7,000.
However, the accused’s counsel New Sin Yew submitted that the proposed bail amount is too excessive as she is not a flight risk.
The lawyer explained that this is because of her nearly a decade of activism to raise public awareness on the plight of refugees in Malaysia.
New said that her social work has earned her numerous notable awards such as the Queen’s Young Leaders Award by Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom in 2017.
“Given who the accused is and her standing in society, it is obvious she is someone with deep roots and connection to the community.
“To impose bail at RM7,000 I submit is excessive. I humbly pray for a lesser amount at RM2,000. It is a nominal sum to secure her attendance (for court proceedings),” New said.
Paramjothy agreed with her defence and set bail at RM2,000. The judge also fixed Sept 6 for mention of the case for handing over of documents.
Last month, Quah had shared her experience in helping a woman who struggled to care for her baby at the detention centre.
Her writing also exposed allegedly horrific conditions of the Immigration detention cells.
Quah’s Facebook post on the issue had earned her a barrage of hate comments and harassment, including threats to her safety.
Her questioning at Bukit Aman came in the wake of a police probe on an Al-Jazeera documentary that allegedly misrepresented facts surrounding the treatment of migrants detained around COVID-19 red zones in Kuala Lumpur.