Anwar Ibrahim is just another prisoner

anwar-penjara

The fact that during my first detention I was the nephew of the Agong and during my second detention I was the cousin of the Selangor Sultan did not allow me any special privileges. I was just another prisoner and was treated as such.

Prison officials have imposed additional restrictions on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim following claims of a conspiracy to unseat Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar claimed today.

The Lembah Pantai MP alleged that authorities have tried to stop opposition leaders Lim Kit Siang, Rafizi Ramli and Selangor Mentri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali from approaching or even seeing Anwar during his rare court appearances.

“Meetings with his lawyers have also been reduced from the usual two hours to 45 minutes and Anwar’s access to the library has also been restricted with him mostly spending time in his cell.

“Family visits have also been made short and Anwar’s written statements for media are also restricted,” Nurul Izzah added.

These added curbs began following claims of a supposed plot involving parliamentarians from both sides of the political aisle to sign statutory declarations pledging to support a vote of no-confidence against Najib, she said. (Malay Mail Online)

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When I was in prison I was briefed on the prison rules and any violation of these prison rules would result in my loss or reduction of privileges. Yes, that’s right. In prison we do not have any rights. We only have privileges.

For example, as Malaysian citizens, we have a right to vote. This right is protected by the Federal Constitution of Malaysia and no one can take away or deny us this right. Of course, we must first register as a voter to enjoy this right. But once in prison we lose this right or this right gets temporarily suspended until we have served our sentence and are released.

We do have a right to reading material but only reading material that has been approved by the prison. Any reading material that is sent to us must first be vetted and approved by the prison.

When we make a public appearance, such as to attend a court hearing or trial, the prison can determine who from the public can approach us or get near to us and whether, even if they are family members, physical contact can be allowed. This is basically for purposes of security because while we are under detention the prison is responsible for our safety.

All letters and correspondences to and from prisoners are to be vetted and approved. All visitors, lawyers included, will not be allowed to bring anything into prison other than case files. Invariably, everyone will be searched, as would prisoners before they are allowed to meet visitors, lawyers included.

My first two months in prison was under solitary confinement, the norm I was told. And if I behaved myself then I would be transferred out of solitary confinement and allowed to mix with the other prisoners.

It was during Hari Raya that I had to spend my time in solitary confinement and, while my family was allowed to visit me on Hari Raya, no physical contact was allowed. We had to meet separated by a glass wall and speak through a phone. No Hari Raya food or cakes were allowed as well.

Family visits were only 45 minutes once a week and limited to only four people at a time. Even then prisoners are to submit a list of visitors for approval and the relationship with the prisoner is to be stated. Invariably, non-family members would not be approved.

Visitors are not allowed to bring anything for these visits, whether reading material or food. You can, however, hand them to the prison office and if approved they would later be handed to the prisoner. I found out later quite a lot of stuff that my wife sent me were not handed to me, probably because they were not approved.

At one stage my spinal injury was so bad that I could hardly walk. I was brought to the Taiping General Hospital and the young Malay girl, the doctor, decided that my injuries were not life threatening and she sent me back to jail. Until today, because of that, I have a permanent spinal problem, which I have to live with till the day I die.

The fact that during my first detention I was the nephew of the Agong and during my second detention I was the cousin of the Selangor Sultan did not allow me any special privileges. I was just another prisoner and was treated as such, strip-search included.

And this, I suppose, is also the case for Anwar Ibrahim. And he is not even the nephew of any Agong or the cousin of any Sultan. So I can imagine that Anwar, just like how I was, is being treated as just another prisoner. RPK

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