IPOH, March 4 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail today clarified that the proposed introduction of home detention is merely to reduce the congestion in jails nationwide.

Saifuddin said that allegations suggesting the plan was proposed to specifically place former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, a convict in the 1MDB corruption case, under home detention is not true.

“I want to refute the ‘mischievous’ narrative played by a handful of media that the proposed home detention is meant for Najib.

“The proposed implementation is targeted specifically for certain categories of prisoner. There will be a panel that evaluates the type of offence, and it is only meant for prisoners serving jail time of four years or less.

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“If they are sentenced to prison for up to 20 years because of a serious crime, no way will we be putting them under home detention,” he told a press conference after visiting Rumah Seri Kenangan in Ulu Kinta here.

Saifuddin pointed out that there are approximately 80,000 inmates housed in 43 prisons across the country at the moment.

“The current prisoner ratio per 100,000 population is at 244 in our country. This exceeds the international standard ratio of 145 prisoners per 100,000 population.

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“So this is why we came up with the proposal to reduce the crowding in jails and not for other purposes,” he explained.

Earlier today, non-governmental organisation Projek SAMA called for a White Paper on the proposed introduction of home detention as an alternative to imprisonment for select prisoners to prevent potential abuse and the emergence of a two-tiered legal system.

The organisation said the White Paper will instil public trust that house arrest will not transform into an exclusive benefit for influential criminals or, worse, be manipulated as a bargaining tool in political negotiations.

It said if Najib were to employ home detention as a covert strategy to escape imprisonment, the trust deficit between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his government, and both Malaysians and the international community would worsen.