PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos is calling for prison reforms after emerging from jail, and also said that the 27-day stint had taught him to appreciate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for the ordeal he had endured.
The Sungai Besar Umno division chief told reporters at his home that some prisoners are resorting to dangerous ways to smuggle tobacco into jail when they were taken out for court proceedings.
Malaysiakini reported Jamal as saying that the most common method used was to swallow plastic bags containing tobacco and some even swallow cigarette lighters.
"Sometimes it can be fatal when the plastic bags rupture," he added.
He suggested for prisoners to be allowed to smoke when they receive visits or once a day.
"The objective is to reduce (contraband). Perhaps I'll be criticised by the public for saying this, but they don't understand. I've been there."
He also urged the Government to improve working conditions for prison guards, afford them better wages and accord them with the same facilities and perks as other civil servants.
"They are very stressed. They are like inmates. They are locked in with them," he said about the prison guards.
Jamal said he felt that prison was the worse place on earth even though he was housed in the "Tawakal" block which was the "best" block in the Sungai Buloh prison.
He described it as entering a grave. He said it had a stench and the confined space caused mental anguish – even to the prison guards.
Jamal said he was surprised that the inmates, even those who have been in jail for many years, knew of him.
"The Sosma detainees were not happy with me. This is the BN man who created Sosma," he said, in reference to those detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.
Reflecting on his struggles in prison, he praised Anwar for his strength in overcoming 13 cumulative years in prison.
"I have to salute Anwar who spent years in jail. He was mentally and spiritually tough. When I was in there, I understood how Anwar, as a human and leader, was cukup hebat (incredible) and should be given recognition.
"What he did was between him and God," he said.
Jamal said his experience in jail was an important lesson from God and it had educated him.
He said he would still be active in Umno but have yet to decide whether to go back to holding demonstrations.
On his lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, Jamal said Muhammad offered to represent him for free.
"He said that my fee was feeding the poor for free in my restaurants. 'That is your fee to me. That is why I came (to help you)'," said Jamal.
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