(Penang, Tuesday): Malaysia’s failure to comply with minimum international standards for the treatment of prisoners in the 22 prisons in the country and the need for prisons reforms will be among the top issues in the coming Parliamentary meeting.
This will be the first time that Malaysia’s prisons is going to feature so prominently in Parliament and I welcome Malaysians who are interested in prison reforms and have information and ideas on this subject to contact me.
Before Parliament meets on April 5, 1999, I hope to be able to visit the prisons in the country and to meet with the prisoners to get a better insight into the conditions prevailing in the country’s prisons.
Going by the past record of the Director-General of Prisons, Datuk Omar Mohamad Dan, I do not expect him to approve of my visit or those of other Members of Parliament to the prisons in the country or to meet with the prisoners, regarding this as an unacceptable intrusion into his kingdom.
I will therefore take this matter up directly with the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as I propose to meet him after the Chinese New Year.
During my meeting with Abdullah, I will seek to impress on him the importance
of Malaysia complying with the minimum international standards for the
treatment of prisoners, the need to have a Director-General
committed to prison reforms and the lifting of the morale of the 8,500-strong
prison service through major improvements in their salaries
and working conditions.