Malaysiakini Letter

My 365th day in Kajang Prison

P Uthayakumar  |  Published:  |  Modified:

During the course of my sedition trial where the rule of law was not adhered to, I repeatedly took snapshots of the deputy public prosecutor and the judge to show that I am not afraid of the Umno government’s jails. Today, after 365 days, I am being made to suffer over and above the two-and-a-half years jail term for sedition.

This is believed to be a decision made at the highest political levels to humiliate and reduce me to a common criminal with a view to breaking me down so that I give up Hindraf’s struggle to end the Malaysian government’s racist policies victimising especially the Indian Malaysian poor.

My written request for treatment at the National Heart Institute (IJN) for chest pains and Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) for backbone problems has been rejected. However, unlike outside, there exists One Malaysia here as all prisoners are treated equally. Compliments of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

From the word go, I had protested including to the prison director, Wahab Kassim, in person that like the Malay and Chinese political leaders such as Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng, Mohamad Sabu, Mathias Chang, Mahfuz Omar, Ezam Mohd Noor, Pak Aejal (PAS), Jamalussin (Umno) and Rahim Noor  (former inspector-general of police), I should be detained at the hospital or security wing and not with the commons criminals. I now happen to be Malaysia’s only political prisoner.

And despite the KL High Court order dated Dec 12, 2013 on this, the prison director has refused to obey, and contempt of court proceedings have been commenced.

In retrospect, it may have been for a purpose as I discovered serious torture, abuse of powers and cruel imhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners, the top 10 are as follows:-

1. On a daily basis prisoners are beaten up and shouted at rampantly at the whims of warders and officers in violation of Regulation 55 and 56 of the Prisons Act 1995. In the latest incidents, Yogendran finger was broken and David @ Appu was beaten up so badly on the soles of his feet at the Security and Eradication Unit (UKP) base that he could hardly even walk to the prison hospital;

2. At the slightest excuse every day warders charge prisoners and immediately sentence them without a hearing within 14 days in the most feared and dreaded ‘dark room’-design torture cells in violation of Regulations 119 and 121. Up to 10 prisoners are packed like sardines in the 10 feet x 10 feet cells in violation of Regulation 4 which provides for a maximum of three.

Prison warders and officers conduct themselves as if they are above the law.  Even my copy of the Prisons Act was confiscated;

3. Imagine the dirty and stinking toilets within the cells, especially when running water supply is cut off from about 6am to 12 noon daily, also to most of the other 4,885 or so prisoners here;

4. This is the main cause of the infamous ‘sakit penjara’ scabies suffered by about one-third of the prison population;

5. The colonial era practice of forcing prisoners to sit on the cement floor under the hot sun for up to one hour for musters (roll calls), six times daily. And bow their heads down while clenching their knees in reverence to warders and officers like the Nazi war criminals we see on TV. There are no serious rehabilitation programmes for prisoners not to get involved in crime when they leave prison;

6. Out of the 500 over prisoners in my Block K, only 30 are allowed to visit the prison doctor and that, too, only once a week;

7. The waiting list to visit the once-a-week prison dentist, even for severe toothache, is a good four to five months and that too only for ‘cabut gigi’ and never for filling and scaling;

Five-in-one gayong

8. Prisoners are forced to have their daily food/meals in the infamous ‘five-in-one’ gayong (dipper) which is also used to wash their backsides, some pass motion in it to recover the tobacco in plastic wrappings which they had swallowed and smuggled in, wash their rotan wounds in and soak their underpants in;

9. Five prisoners in one cell are given one toothbrush to share and only one bar of washing and bathing soap once in three months. No towels or even a pillow are provided. Wherever does the budget for all these basic necessities go?

With their sole bread winners in jail, most families also with schoolgoing children further suffer from the up to 55 percent higher prices of basic toiletries and foodstuff at the prison canteen despite zero overhead as rentals, water, electricity and staff salary are free. The food ration as per Schedule 1 of the Act is short-changed.  Old and sickly prisoners have to beg for even a cup of warm drinking water;

10. Prisoners, especially new prisoners, are forced to bend down naked in a row in a public area and open up their backsides and cough at the same time for warders to check for any hidden tobacco. A RM6,000 portable x-ray machine can do the job in a more humane manner.

For raising all of the above and especially my 17 complaints in the Request Book, I have been tortured three times by being locked up in the said “dark room” cell. To cripple my ‘prison activism’ I am now locked up in solitary confinement in the ‘dark room’ cell 24 hours a day with some 10 transvestites and violent and dangerous criminals.

I am forced to pour water over my body 20 to 30 times a day because of the hot and stuffy cell despite the rear iron steel door being open during the day. The only thing I can look forward for the next day is the some fresh air and sunlight. I am forced to sleep on the cement floor, toiletries denied.  

Prisoners have already been punished to the ‘current trend’ longer prison sentences in order for society to be protected from them.  But why the aforesaid punishment over and above the court punishment?

On this my 365th day in Kajang Prison, I urge Prime Minister Najib to institute a royal commission of inquiry to investigate the above and initiate serious prison reforms in keeping with a civil society.

P Uthayakumar, Kajang Prison

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