BUKIT MERTAJAM: Sept 13, 2008 By DERRICK VINESH and CHRISTINA CHIN
Warm hugs from her anxious family members and friends saw Tan Hoon Cheng almost breaking down in tears as she returned home in Taman Alma, here at about 4.15pm Saturday.
The 33-year-old Sin Chew Daily reporter, who was detained Friday under the Internal Security Act (ISA), was released in less than 24 hours.
She was all smiles as she spoke to her family and friends for a mere 20 minutes before heading to stay at a friend’s house to avoid the media.
Clad in a pale orange T-shirt and jeans, Hoon Cheng remained calm and composed, as four police officers dropped her off in a four-wheel drive at 4.15pm.
Her brother Weng Tong, 37, said Hoon Cheng told him that she was taken to the Perak police headquarters in Ipoh instead of the Bukit Aman Police Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur as they had initially thought.
“The police drove her from the Penang police headquarters to Ipoh at about 8.30am and returned to the same place on the island at about 2.30pm.
“Due to slight traffic congestion on the Penang Bridge, they only reached our home in Bukit Mertajam at about 4pm,” he said Saturday.
Weng Tong, a tour guide based in Kuala Lumpur, said his sister told them that the policemen treated her well and that she was given proper meals to eat. Appealing for the media’s co-operation and understanding, he said, Hoon Cheng was not keen on giving any press statement for the time being.
“She just told us not to worry, now that she is back home safely.
“My sister is a very tough and independent girl. Although she is the youngest and the only girl among us three siblings, she is not the pet.
“She pampers us a lot, instead,” he said, adding that she was very committed to her work.
Weng Tong said Hoon Cheng wanted to go back to work immediately, but was advised by her colleagues to take it easy for a few days.
Their mother Khor Ah Heok, 59, said she was at peace only when she heard from Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who called at about noon to inform her that Hoon Cheng could be released by the evening.
“I could only afford a sigh of relief when I saw her at our front gate. I hope my worst fears about Hoon Cheng’s safety are over,” she said.
Hoon Cheng’s other brother Tan Weng Khian, 35, a sales executive, grandmother Tan Kim Tien, 95, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces were also at their house to welcome her back.
Her father Tan Boon Siam, 65, was away at work when she returned home.
Weng Tong said the family was touched by the support of fellow Malaysians of all races who displayed their caring spirit during the trying 24 hours of Hoon Cheng’s arrest.
“I am not saying this for publicity sake, but my family has always respected and cared for the different communities, whom we have known all our lives.
“We just hope Malaysians will remain united and live peacefully as one harmonious family,” he said. He also thanked the Home Affairs Ministry, political parties, the media and public for their support and for helping to expedite Hoon Cheng’s release.
Hoon Cheng, who was arrested under Section 73(1) of the ISA at her home in Bukit Mertajam on Friday night, was allowed to see her parents for about 15 minutes Saturday morning.