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Prison life amid the pandemic - 'we are treated like animals'

SPECIAL REPORT | When it was midnight, "T" sat back against the wall of his temporary cell at the Pengkalan Chepa Prison, listening to his roommates snore while waiting for his turn to sleep.

“I can’t sleep yet, I have to wait...,” he told himself and stared at the others who slept closely next to one another.

He was waiting for one of them to move or shift their bodies and if they awoke, he would quickly approach and ask: "Can you let me lie down for a while? I don’t feel well.”

He would then squeeze in and lie down until he is woken by other inmates desperate for their chance to lie down.

The ex-inmate recalled that everyone in the temporary cells had trouble finding enough space on the floor to sleep. In order to maximise the limited space, they had to sleep facing the legs of the person next to them.

Talking to Malaysiakini on the condition of anonymity, T shared his experience serving his jail sentence in the prison from 2019. He said some inmates in the temporary cells had no choice but to sit and wait for their turn to sleep.

T said if someone refused to do so, a fight could break out in the cell, sometimes in the middle of the night. He said all the jail cells were packed to the brim and the inmates could hardly move, what more maintain social distancing as required under Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).

He also recalled a notice board stating that the prison’s capacity was 1,500 inmates but he claimed there were close to 3,000.

Similarly, "John" began...

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