Buildings can be requisitioned as temporary depots to house prisoners under Emergency, says chief secretary to govt

Inmates queue up to be tested for Covid-19 at the Seberang Perai Prison in Nibong Tebal on October 15, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Inmates queue up to be tested for Covid-19 at the Seberang Perai Prison in Nibong Tebal on October 15, 2020. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — Overcrowding in prisons that can cause the spread and rise in Covid-19 cases could be curbed with a special ordinance under the Emergency proclamation.

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali said the security cluster under the Emergency Management Technical Committee can put forward a suggestion of borrowing any building to be used as a temporary depot.

“Overcrowding in prisons is among the factors behind the rise in Covid-19 cases because of the nature of prisons, where inmates being held in a single location and in large numbers.

“With the purpose of stopping or reducing the potential Covid-19 infections, an ordinance that we could formulate would enable us to move the inmates to a temporary depot to reduce the number of detainees in prison and comply with the standard operating procedures (SOP),” he said.

He said this when appearing as a guest on the 'Bicara Naratif' programme entitled Pengurusan Darurat: Pendekatan Strategik Memerangi Covid-19 (Emergency Management: Strategic Approaches to Combating Covid-19), aired on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) last night.

 Mohd Zuki also said that inmates whose sentences were nearly complete, those with a month or two left, could be released early.

“We could amend the acts or introduce it...with the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, we could reduce their sentence.

“These are all examples of suggestions, matters that we discuss in detail for each cluster before being presented to the National Security Council special session, and if the council agrees, it will be brought before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he said.

He said under the Emergency, the government would be able to control any sabotage or price increase to ensure that no unscrupulous party can take advantage of the Covid-19 situation.

“The Price Control Act has only been used during festive seasons...during the Emergency, we can introduce and use ordinances for the purpose of price control...we do not want anyone to take advantage,” he said, adding that the suggestion will be taken into consideration by the economy cluster.

Besides the security and economy clusters, four other clusters — health, education, communication as well as federal and state relations — are included in the committee that is jointly chaired by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan and Mohd Zuki.

The technical committee will, among other things, be responsible for monitoring issues relating to the implementation and management of the Emergency as well as to recommend solutions. — Bernama

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