TANJUNG MALIM, Dec 7 — The District Parole Station (SPD) which functions as a transit centre for parole officers and the monitoring and supervision of those under parole (ODP), licensed prisoner release (OBB) programme and prisoners’ release on licence (PBL) programme was launched today.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the SPD was an alternative form of punishment for ODP, OBB and PBL, namely to undergo rehabilitation in the community outside prison.

He said that when the individuals involved could adapt to the community that was part of the programme, they would be able to achieve the goal of reducing overcrowding in prisons, in addition to reducing the rate of recidivism.

“If we succeed in reducing their presence in the prisons, what savings will we (the government) have, we will not have to pay for their food and drinks. In a year that’s almost RM18 million in savings.

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“It is not our savings that is the number one (priority), but their recovery and opportunity to adapt, work and be able to support the families they have left behind,” he said at a press conference after officiating the launch of the Prison Department’s SPD, in collaboration with the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) near here, today.

So far, a total of 20 SPDs have been established across the country to support the existing 52 parole and community services offices, with a total of 40 personnel of the Prison Department and 40 members of Rela working at the SPD to carry out monitoring and supervision assignments.

Saifuddin said as of October this year, the Prisons Department recorded 39,637 ODPs since the system was introduced in 2008.

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Meanwhile, Saifuddin said any target to increase the SDP in the country in the future would depend on the ability and the budget allocated to the Home Ministry (KDN).

“Ideally, we have 222 parliamentary constituencies, we all want to have one parole station each, but of course, we have budget constraints. So that’s why we will implement it in stages.

“For now, we will utilise the funds we have first, but the desire or target to increase (SDP) depends on the ability of the budget received by KDN,” he said.

In another development, Saifuddin said he had never mentioned Bahasa Melayu as being a condition for obtaining a passport and there had been no rejection of applications so far due to language problems.

He stressed that for Malaysians dealing at government counters, the minimum was that they could speak Bahasa Melayu to facilitate business.

“What I recommend is that Malaysians including Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) to prioritise Bahasa Melayu, that’s the issue. It has never been the practice of the Immigration (Department) to reject (passport applications) because of language, the proof is that 2.3 million passports were issued this year alone and there is no record of rejection because of language problems, the data is with the ministry.

“Back to the main issue, which is that Bahasa Melayu is enshrined in the Constitution whereby every Malaysian citizen should master it,” he said.

Saifuddin said this when asked to comment on yesterday’s media report regarding the LFL which lashed out at him for defending an immigration officer, who scolded a woman and her daughter in Johor for not being fluent in Bahasa Melayu.

In the meantime, when asked about the allegation that there was a prison for VIPs, Saifuddin said: “During the year I have been with KDN, got to know this institution (Prisons Department), visited most of the prisons in our country, I have not found a single VIP room for any of the inmates.

“To those who have made the allegations, the onus is on them to prove it with evidence. I have personally looked at the process and the management of the prison system, gone in and seen for myself, if there are allegations of VIP service, I urge the individuals concerned to stop (making baseless allegations),” he said. — Bernama