Wednesday September 26, 2012
Detention camp nightmare for hit-and-run victim
By R.S.N. MURALI
MALACCA: He was once a classical dancer who loved to wear the saree but is now languishing in a detention camp for illegal immigrants.
What's even worse is that R. Murugan's family thought that he had died after he “disappeared” in 2010 and they could not find him despite a lengthy search.
Murugan, 65, who was born in Malacca and grew up in Port Dickson, was actually a victim of a hit-and-run accident two years ago and admitted to the Seremban Hospital.
He had no identification papers with him then, so he ended up at the Tanah Merah immigration detention camp in Kelantan.
Several months ago, he was transferred to a detention camp here after his health deteriorated.
A social worker, T. Kamalanathan, managed to trace Murugan, better known as Pahpa (baby in Tamil), after he was told by several foreigners that a sickly man who preferred to wear dresses was in need of help.
“An immigration officer at the camp allowed me to visit him. But Pahpa could not provide me with proper details as his speech is slurred after an earlier stroke,” Kamalanathan said.
“He merely told me he came from Port Dickson and gave me a photo of himself,” he said when met outside the camp yesterday.
Eventually, Kamalanathan said he met a barber and two restaurant helpers in Port Dickson who identified Pahpa as a former kolattam dancer from Bandar Sunggala back in the 1980s.
“Some of the locals there could also remember him,” he added.
Kamalanathan said he subsequently managed to track down one of Pahpa's nieces, D. Shanty, 43, who was informed that her uncle was still alive.
“However, I was told that Pahpa has no birth certificate.”
Kamalanathan said he would seek ways for Pahpa to be released from the detention camp once he collects documents like school certificates to substantiate Pahpa's status as a Malaysian.
He had also arranged for Pahpa to be reunited with Shanty yesterday.
Shanty said her uncle was in tears and started hugging her.
“He could not speak but I knew what he was trying to convey. He kept saying he was still alive and asked me to get him out from the camp,” she added.
“Some of our relatives had previously kept away from him but I am willing to care for him,” said Shanty, who is married with three children.