Press Statement
Navy Chief’s disregard of Mat Sabu’s order to investigate death of cadet Soosaimanickam is unacceptable
14 July 2018

We refer to yesterday evening’s response of Navy Chief Laksamana Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman to Defence Minister Mat Sabu’s order that the Navy carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into the controversial death of navy cadet J Soosaimanickam at the Lumut base on 19 May 2018.

Instead of carrying out Sabu’s instructions, Kamarulzaman has claimed in a press conference late yesterday that the Navy has already completed the investigation and had informed the family of this.

This is shocking and unacceptable, coming from the top navy officer; it is clear disregard of the defence minister’s order.

Sabu’s order was made in response to the family’s complaint on the Navy’s probe and handling of the matter in the first place. It is thus disturbing for the Navy chief to rely on that same earlier probe in his public response to the Minister’s order.

In the so-called ‘investigation’ carried out by the Navy earlier which Kamarulzaman now relies upon, the family members of Soosaimanickam were not even called to give evidence or have their statements recorded.

Yet, the Navy was fully aware that the family members were in possession of crucial evidence regarding Soosaimanickam’s death, as this had been conveyed by the family to Navy officials.

The evidence in the family’s possession included a WhatsApp message from Soosaimanickam to his brother, in which he said he was being ‘tortured’. This was a harrowing and critical piece of evidence; a direct complaint of abuse made by the deceased himself.

What sort of ‘investigation’ was it that ignored this kind of evidence?

Other documentary evidence in the family’s possession were also not sought for or obtained by the Navy.

Was this then a serious probe by the Navy into the real cause of Soosaimanickam’s death?

It was obviously due to the unsatisfactory manner in which the inquiry had been done, that caused the defence minister yesterday, to order a fresh investigation with no cover-up.

27 year old persons do not simply drop dead just one week into cadet training. Kamarulzaman and the Navy have thus far failed to provide any explanation whatsoever as to how this could have happened.

Kamarulzaman’s attempt to sidestep the minister’s instruction to investigate only creates more doubt and suspicion.

We urge the Navy to undertake a full probe immediately in accordance with the minister’s order, and make the findings public. No stone must be left unturned.

Meanwhile, the police must also carry out criminal investigations into the matter. Where criminal conduct is suspected, the police have jurisdiction to do so even though the death was on a navy base.

Released by:
N Surendran
Lawyer for the family of J Soosaimanickam
& Advisor of Lawyers for Liberty