Kit Siang: Malaysians must demand inquiry into claims inmates pepper-sprayed in Jelebu Prison

Revelation of prison inmates being subjected to torture underpins the urgent need to form the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, Lim said. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Revelation of prison inmates being subjected to torture underpins the urgent need to form the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, Lim said. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang asked today that Malaysians speak up to demand an inquiry into the shocking allegation of prison inmates who had their private parts pepper-sprayed during quarantine.

The revelation again underpins the urgent need to form the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, which Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had vowed to oversee when he was then home minister, the DAP stalwart stressed. 

The allegations of abuse surfaced as public uproar over the custodial death of A. Ganapathy, a trader selling cow’s milk and had two children aged five and seven years old, has yet to subside. Lim had also called for an inquiry into the matter.

“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 of A. Ganapathy,” the MP said in a statement this morning.

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 Negri Sembilan.

According to the wife of one of the detainees, her husband and 21 other detainees were transferred from the Sungai Udang Prison in Malacca on April 8 for a two-week quarantine at the Jelebu Prison after returning from the Seremban courts.

There, they were allegedly beaten by prison officers using PVC pipes while handcuffed, before being further beaten by others using canes, pipes, chairs, wood pieces and other objects for what he claimed was for an hour.

Several of the inmates also claimed their genitals and anuses were pepper-sprayed, causing them to be unable to urinate or defecate.

Some of those who allegedly attacked the inmates wore plain clothes including shorts and slippers.

None of the 22 detainees allegedly abused and beaten received hospital treatment except for one person who was hospitalised because of tuberculosis, Lim noted.

“It is shocking and completely unacceptable that prisoners are treated worse than animals, completely denied their human rights,” he said.

Critics of the Perikatan Nasional government claim there has been a surge in police brutality and prison abuse allegations under the tenure of Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin as home mnister.

Hamzah has been accused of serious power abuse, including by outgoing Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador, who at his farewell press conference yesterday accused the minister of political interference.

He said Hamzah’s interference has prevented the police force from becoming an independent, professional and world-class. 

Lim had described the disclosure as “shocking” and said it underscored the need to hold the police accountable via an independent commission.

“Three prime ministers have come and gone, and the fourth prime minister who had committed himself to set up the IPCMC when he was home minister in 2019 is still dragging his feet on the matter,” Lim said.

The demand for the IPCMC also received the backing of MIC, a member party of the PN administration, but Lim accused Minister for Human Resources Datuk Seri Saravanan Murugan, of cowardice for failing to take the issue up to the 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,” he said.

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