By Lim Kit Siang
I CALL for the Government to set up a public inquiry into the shocking allegation of “prison inmates pepper-sprayed on their private parts during quarantine”.
The families of 10 prison inmates have filed police reports after their incarcerated relatives claimed to have been abused, while being quarantined at the Jelebu Prison in Negeri Sembilan.
Among the allegations is that the inmates’ genitals and anuses were pepper-sprayed, causing them to be unable to urinate or defecate.
At the media conference in Cheras yesterday, some family members wept while telling their relatives’ ordeal while in detention.
One of them, R Lavaniyaa, said her husband B Kalaiarasan was contemplating suicide.
“He said ‘If I stay inside, I will die in prison. I will either kill myself or get beaten to death’” said Lavaniyaa, who was too overwhelmed to continue speaking.
According to her police report, on April 8, her husband and 21 other detainees were transferred from the Sungai Udang Prison in Malacca to be quarantined for 14 days at the Jelebu Prison after returning from the Seremban courts.
There, they were allegedly beaten by prison officers using PVC pipes while they were still handcuffed, before being beaten by others using canes, pipes, chairs, wood pieces and other objects for what he claimed was for an hour.
Some of those who allegedly attacked the inmates wore plain clothes, including shorts and slippers.
After the beating, they were then ordered into a room in pairs, told to take off their pants and underwear before a prison guard allegedly pepper sprayed their private parts.
They were then reportedly told to lie on the floor naked. Lavaniyaa claimed that according to Kalaiarasan, the inmates were later subjected to more beatings that carried on into the night.
Her brother-in-law’s wife Elisha Teh, who was present, said they met Kalaiarasan on April 27 – the first time they had met this year. During that meeting, Kalaiarasan complained that his genitals were still bleeding.
None of the 22 allegedly abused and beaten detainees received hospital treatment except for one person who was hospitalised because of tuberculosis.
It is shocking and completely unacceptable that prisoners are treated worse than animals, completely denied of their human rights.
It is equally shocking that many hair-raising stories about cruelty, brutality and inhumanity in prisons and police lock-ups are appearing during the tenure of Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin as Home Minister.
Furthermore, the retiring Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador had complained in his farewell media conference last Friday, four days before the end of this term, that Hamzah had politically interfered with the police and prevented it from becoming an independent and professional police force.
Last Wednesday I had called for a public inquiry into the death of A Ganapathy, who had worked as a cow’s milk trader. The deceased had two children, aged five and seven years old.
The death of Ganapathy occurred almost one month after being admitted to the Selayang Hospital’s intensive care unit following his arrest by police to assist in an investigation.
The deceased’s mother claimed that her son was denied his right to receive medical treatment, and he was beaten, resulting in a serious injury while he was in detention.
Forty-year-old Ganapathy was arrested on Feb 24 to facilitate an investigation into a sibling who was wanted by the police.
He was released on March 8 but was admitted to Selayang Hospital’s intensive care unit.
His 60-year-old mother, S Thanaletchumy, said her son told her that police had beaten him with a rubber hose.
His family claimed Ganapathy’s health deteriorated under police custody, resulting in his leg being swollen and bruised as though he had been beaten.
I had welcomed MIC’s proposal for an independent investigation into the death of Ganapathy, but unfortunately Datuk Seri M Saravanan, who is the Human Resources Minister, did not dare to raise the issue in Cabinet.
MIC had also called for the long-talked about Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to be set up. But again, Saravanan dared not take up the IPCMC issue in Cabinet.
Malaysians must speak up to demand public inquiries into the shocking allegation of “prison inmates pepper-sprayed on their private parts during quarantine” as well as into the death Ganapathy.
Is our Parliament being suspended to allow untrammelled and unchecked abuse of power by certain political leaders? – May 2, 2021
Lim Kit Siang is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.