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Sosma detainee battles mental disorder post-release

Mustaza Abdul Rahman only had a week to celebrate Aidilfitri before he was sent to undergo treatment for PTSD.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
3 minute read
Mahathir Abdul Rahman shows a picture of his brother, Mustaza, with an officer at a prison where he was held under Sosma or the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.
Mahathir Abdul Rahman shows a picture of his brother, Mustaza, with an officer at a prison where he was held under Sosma or the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.

Former police officer Mustaza Abdul Rahman spent six years in detention under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) before he was finally allowed to go home in time for Ramadan this year. 

The last Ramadan and Aidilfitri he spent at home before that was in 2015. 

He was arrested in June 2016, just a week before Aidilfitri, and charged with several offences including withholding information, consorting, and endorsing violence.

His family fought in court for his release which finally came in March this year. 

However, the joy and excitement of welcoming him home was short-lived – just weeks later, he was found to be suffering from a mental disorder. 

"We did not expect this to happen. When we met him in prison and talked on the phone, he seemed fine. 

"After being released, he appeared normal when chatting," said one of his brothers, Mahathir Abdul Rahman.

However, when subjected to a little pressure, he would begin to lose focus and stray from the topic, Mahathir added.

They monitored his condition for several weeks before deciding to take him to see a specialist at Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

There, they learnt that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the physical and mental tortures he endured while in detention.

Mahathir said the decision to seek treatment was agreed on by all his family members.

They also informed Mustaza of the plan, who agreed to receive treatment.

"Coincidentally, there was a counselling teacher detained under Sosma with Mustaza who knew about his mental health.

"We also obtained opinions from other detainees who knew Mustaza," he said.

Mustaza also faced pressure from outside of the detention centre when his wife asked him for a divorce. 

He also desperately missed his son, who was just over a year old when he was detained. 

Mahathir Abdul Rahman smiles as he holds up a family picture taken with his brother, Mustaza, during Hari Raya Aidilfitri. 

"After being released, he met his son in Perak. But now his son is in Sarawak with his mother who is a teacher there," Mahathir said.

Mustaza's wife had asked for a divorce when she was turned down as an officer at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission due to her relationship to him. 

Mustaza was serving as a mechanical police officer at the Sungai Petani district police headquarters in Kedah when he was arrested.

He also earned a side income by running a gym and selling bodybuilding supplements.

He even ran a mango business after being released to regain his footing.

But none of this lasted long given his mental condition.

Mustaza's family is now waiting for him to recover. In the meantime, their hope is that Sosma will be completely abolished. 

They were left disappointed by Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail who said late last year that the government would not abolish Sosma despite Pakatan Harapan's stand against the act during its time in the opposition. 

Mahathir said Saifuddin appeared more inclined to listen to the police, whom he said "naturally support" Sosma. 

"He should have met with other stakeholders before making a decision," he said.

He also voiced hope that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim himself would fulfil his promise to repeal the act. 

"We met him in Parliament when he was the opposition leader. He labelled this act as draconian.

"He is aware of Mustaza's case," Mahathir added.

Meanwhile, he and his family remain hopeful of good news from the doctor treating Mustaza.

At just 36, he said, Mustaza still has his whole life ahead of him. 

And he has a child waiting to know the love of a father after six years of separation by a detention cell.