(Kuala Lumpur, Monday): The Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail said yesterday that DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, could still attend the next parliamentary meeting which will be officially opened by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Ja'afar to mark the beginning of the fifth session of the Ninth Parliament on April 5, if the prison authorities allowed him.
The Director-General of Prisons, Datuk Omar Mohamad Dan should explain why he is frustrating the will of voters of Kota Melaka to have their voice represented in the Dewan Rakyat as he had rejected an earlier application that Guan Eng should be allowed to attend the budget Parliamentary meeting from October to December last year.
Is it because Omar is afraid that Guan Eng would speak on the prison conditions in Kajang Prison which, like all the other 21 prisons in the country, fail to comply with the minimum international standards for the treatment of prisoners or about how Omar Dan had made misleading statements on Guan Eng's prison conditions, as for instance, trying to deny the impossible about Guan Eng's great loss of weight.
On 17th September last year, Omar told a media conference that Guan Eng had not lost any weight in his first 22 days in Kajang Prison, when in actual fact, Guan Eng had lost six pounds in his first 18 days in Kajang Prison from August 25 to Sept 11 - which was why Guan Eng's wife, Betty Chew, held a press conference on September 13, 1998 expressing the family's concern about Guan Eng's health. Guan Eng had lost another two pounds in the subsequent four days just before Omar's media conference, making a weight loss of eight pounds in 22 days from August 25 when he entered Kajang Prison to Sept. 16.
Again recently, Omar Dan misled the new Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheik Fadzir into making a most preposterous public statement denying that Guan Eng had lost up to 22 pounds or 10kg, when such an information could be checked from the Kajang Prison records.
Last September, I had sought to meet Omar to discuss about Guan Eng's prison conditions, but Omar dared not even come to the phone, let alone meet me.
I can agree that it would look rather anomalous for a serving prisoner MP to speak in Parliament about the prison conditions he is personally experiencing, and if Guan Eng is allowed to attend the forthcoming Parliamentary meeting, I would direct him not to speak on anything affecting the Kajang Prison.
However, Omar should realise that there is nothing to stop other DAP MPs from raising the issue of Malaysian prisons failing to comply with the minimum international standards for the treatment of prisoners, which has been confirmed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union with regard to Guan Eng's specific case.
Omar was responsible for denying Guan Eng' s right to legal visits by his lawyers in the past three months. It was only last weekend that Betty Chew, Guan Eng's wife could exercise her right to visit Guan Eng as his lawyer.
I hope Omar would not again deny Guan Eng's parliamentary right to attend the next meeting of Parliament following the very clear statement by the Speaker of Parliament yesterday that Guan Eng could attend Parliamentary meetings if Omar allows it.
The denial of Guan Eng's parliamentary right to attend Parliament is a manifest injustice. The National "Justice For All" Movement will launch a new people's campaign to demand that the Prisons Director-General allow Guan Eng to attend the forthcoming Parliamentary meeting.