(Penang, Friday): I am shocked by the statement by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir who seems to want to give the impression that DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, is receiving five-star hotel treatment and leading a life of ease and comfort in Kajang Prison.
Abdul Kadir said Guan Eng was given preferential treatment in Kajang Prison, that he is in a cell by himself which is supposed to be occupied by three inmates. "Besides that the cell has toilet facilities," he said.
What is this cell with attached toilet facilities? I am surprised Abdul Kadir did not mention that Guan Engís cell also has attached bathroom facilities, for in his l0ft by 8 ft cell, which is 10 ft. high, Guan Eng has to do all his necessities. Abdul Kadir did not mention that the toilet is not a flush toilet but the pour-water type, and when the pipes are choked, which is not an unusual occurrence, the sewers will flood the cell!
I thank Abdul Kadir for visiting Guan Eng in his Kajang Prison cell two days ago, but I am shocked at his accusation that that I have made "baseless" allegations to gain "political mileage and publicity by tarnishing the image of the government" and that my allegations were "merely lies which were unfair to the prison officers who were serving with much dedication".
Abdul Kadir claimed that Guan Eng informed him that he was not facing
any problem, "contrary to allegations by his father, Lim Kit Siang" and
that Guan Eng "even admitted that he was given good treatment by the prison
I stand by every word that I have said about Guan Eng in Kajang Prison and I challenge Abdul Kadir to produce Guan Eng at a media conference for the world to see whether he would endorse the Deputy Home Ministerís account or to hold an inquiry as to whether every word that I have said about Guan Eng in Kajang Prison can be proved.
I should know what I am talking about as I visited Guan Eng in Kajang Prison yesterday and he told me about Abdul Kadirís visit a day earlier.
Abdul Kadir disputed my statement that Guan Eng had lost 22 pounds or 10 kg, saying that Guan Eng have only lost 3.5 kg instead of 10 kg.
When Abdul Kadir went into Blok Asiangan (Isolation Block) where Guan Eng is being jailed, he walked past Guan Engís cell because he could not instantly recognise the Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka who had lost so much weight, and had to be told by prison officers that he had walked past Guan Eng!
Abdul Kadir would not have made himself look so foolish disputing my claim that Guan Eng had not lost 10 kg if he had read my statement of 19th Sept. 1998 rebutting the statement by the Prisons Director-General, Datuk Omar Mohamad Dan, who had claimed that Guan Eng had not lost any weight in his 22 days in Kajang Prisons, maintaining a weight of 65 kilogram all along from the very first day he entered Kajang Prisons on August 25.
This is what I said in my statement of Sept. 19, 1998:
"It goes against common sense that a person thrown into jail for 22 days has not lost any weight at all. Clearly, something is wrong with the weighing machine which had been used to supply the Prisons Director-General with the incorrect information and the Weights and Measures Department should send an officer to Kajang Prison to ensure that all the weighing machines are working correctly.
"There is another weighing machine in Kajang Prison which shows that Guan Eng weighed 159 pounds on Sept. 11 and 157 pounds on Sept. 16, as compared to his weight of 165 pounds when he entered Kajang Prisons on August 25."
On 18th Sept. 1998, I suggested that Guan Eng be produced at a media conference for everyone to see whether he had lost eight pounds in 22 days or whether he had not lost any weight as claimed by Omar Dan. I repeat my suggestion that Guan Eng be produced publicly to let everybody see whether he had lost 10 kg as I have stated or only 3.5 kg as claimed by Abdul Kadir!
I do not know when Abdul Kadir, who is a lawyer, has suddenly become a medical specialist when he could opine that Guan Engís back pain was not due to sleeping on the cold, hard cement floor but because it was a common problem resulting from ageing.
Abdul Kadirís medical opinion might have some credibility if I had been the prisoner in Kajang Prison, but not Guan Eng at his 38 years of age!
Abdul Kadir claimed that Guan Eng had no complaints during his visit. Guan Eng told me when I visited him yesterday that he had raised several matters with Abdul Kadir which I do not propose to make public unless unavoidable.
Abdul Kadir is right when he said that Guan Engís "relationship with the prison officers is excellent" but completely misinformed when he added that "almost all his needs have been met by the prison officers".
I was not criticising the Kajang Prison officers but the penal system
whose conditions are so deplorable that a young healthy Member of
Parliament can lose 22 pounds after five months in prison, developing multiple
ailments which he never suffered before the imprisonment and a cruel,
heartless and soulless prison system that could deny Guan Engís
three young children the humanity to touch or embrace their father,
which goes against the "caring society" of the government.
The Minister for National Unity and Social Development, Datin Paduka Zaleha announced three days ago that an international conference to promote family unity and love will be held in April.
The Malaysian penal system is making a mockery of such an international conference as well as the governmentís claim to promote family values as it is undermining, disrupting and even destroying family unity and love.
Abdul Kadir dispute my claim that the Kajang Prison conditions fall below the international minimum standards for prisons. Does Abdul Kadir know what he is talking about, has he read the international minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners and made a comparison with the Malaysian prison conditions?
I call for a national debate as to whether Malaysiaís prisons conform with the international minimum standards and Malaysians should demand wide-ranging reforms if they fall far short of these international minimum standards.
It is clear that Abdul Kadir has missed out many things in his visit to Kajang Prison, which was probably his first visit to any prison. I am prepared to accompany him as a guide to show him what are the things he should see and find out if Malaysia is to have a model penal system which conforms with international minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners.