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Health Ministry official: Anwar in jail is not prisoner-like

In one corner is a RM5,000 hospital bed and in another a hot and cold shower, with a curtain to ensure privacy and also shield a sit-down toilet. A wall fan overlooks a writing table.

This is the cell of Anwar Ibrahim at the Sungai Buloh Prison, and he is not confined to it. He is allowed to move freely along a 50-metre corridor. Just outside is a compound that he can go to in the evenings.

The authorities have not broken any rule to accommodate Anwar, who suffers from a chronic but not life-threatening shoulder injury, resulting from a road accident.

“But we did bend a lot of regulations,” said a senior Health Ministry official, who described Anwar’s room.

He added that the prison authorities confirmed that Anwar’s cell is cleaned daily to ensure that it is kept clean.

He was responding to accusations from Anwar’s supporters that their leader was being kept in a filthy cell.

As for medical care, 17 experts have treated Anwar, who now has a panel of six looking after his physical welfare.

The six - three from Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL), two from the private sector and one from the ministry - put before Anwar three options on Aug 28.

One is for him to continue with the conservative treatment, the second option is arthroscopic surgery, which is minimally invasive, and the third is shoulder replacement.

On Sept 28, an expert of Anwar’s choice examined the 68-year-old former opposition leader and agreed with the three options and asked him to choose.

Between February and Oct 28, Anwar’s family met him 13 times at the Sungai Buloh Prison, 10 times in hospital and 10 times in court while his lawyers met him 66 times at the prison and 10 times in court.

At the prison, Anwar’s doctors met him 78 times, his panel of doctors 27 times, and his physiotherapist 12 times.

Meanwhile, his wife, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is reported to have insisted that Anwar be treated overseas.

‘No need for treatment abroad’

But the official said there is no need for treatment abroad.

He said the Prisons Act 1995 (Act 537) does not allow prisoners to be treated in non-government facilities or to go overseaa to seek treatment as treatment facilities are available in the country.

“Therefore, the question (of Anwar seeking treatment oversea) does not arise,” he added.

“We have the equipment and the expertise to do an arthroscopic or shoulder replacement surgery - whichever he chooses.

“We are known for this. In fact, many people from around the region come here (to Malaysia) for these two surgeries,” the official said.

“The arthroscopic surgery especially is straightforward, is easy and often performed.”

He said Anwar can recuperate in hospital for three to four weeks after the surgery, until all the stitches have been removed and there is no danger of infection.

If Anwar still wants a foreign specialist to treat him here (in the country), 'we will facilitate that. No problem,' the official said.

He also said that Anwar is treated with courtesy at all times.

“We even have a special diet for him, including cereal, honey, raisins and dates in consideration of his condition.”

The experts had hoped that Anwar would have made his decision early for them to carry out the operation on Nov 1.

“We hope Anwar makes his decision soon,” the official said.

Anwar was jailed in February for five years for sodomising his former aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who was 23 at the time of the offence in 2008.

- Bernama

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