Call for public inquiry into the shocking allegation of “prison inmates being pepper-sprayed on their privates during quarantine”

I call for 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' ordeals.

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 be beaten to death'” said Lavaniyaa.

She 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 of two, 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'd met this year. During that meeting, Kalaiarasan complained that his genitals were still bleeding.

None of the 22 detainees allegedly abused and beaten 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 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 Hamzah Zainuddin as Home Minister and even 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, professional and world-class police force.

Last Wednesday, I had called for a public inquiry into the death of A. Ganapathy, who had worked as a trader selling cow’s milk and 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 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 A 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 because of his stint in police custody, resulting in his leg being swollen and bruised as though he had been beaten.

I had welcomed the MIC proposal for an independent investigation into the death of A. Ganapathy, but unfortunately, the MIC Minister, the Minister for Human Resources, Datuk Seri Saravanan Murugan dared not 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.

The IPCMC idea was first proposed in the Royal Police Commision report in 2004.

Three Prime Ministers have come and gone, and the fourth Prime Minister who had committed himself to set up the IPCMC in 2019 when he was Home Minister in 2019 is still dragging his feet on 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 A. Ganapathy.

Is Parliament being suspended to allow untrammelled and unchecked abuse of power by certain political leaders?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri