KUANTAN (Bernama): "This could be our last kiss and our final embrace... I don't know whether I will ever have the chance to kiss my parents' hands again."
These are the words of Pak Sodok, an inmate of Penor Prison, a doting son who doesn't seem to want to be apart from his parents, aged 75 and 78, during the 'Jalinan Kasih' programme on Friday (June 28).
Currently serving his 30-year jail time for rape, he said that was his first kiss and hug with his parents since he started serving his sentence in 2012.
"Since the prison warden told me I had been selected among many to participate in the programme two days ago, I couldn't sit still. I started counting the days because I wanted it to be soon.
"I'm so happy beyond words but at the same time sad to have caused so much trouble for my ailing parents who had to travel far from Batu Rakit, Terengganu to be here,' he said when Bernama met him at the event.
Pak Sodok, whose former job as a tractor driver earned him the nickname 'sodok' (to scoop), admitted that he was over the moon to have been able to don a green apple Baju Melayu and experience Aidilfitri celebration.
He said he felt really moved when he saw his three brothers and sister at the event but tears started flowing freely when he saw his two children, aged nine and 12.
For 33-year-old Dey, who is serving his 15-year sentence for a drug offence, he almost couldn't believe his eyes that the four-year-old bouncy, bright and breezy little girl he was staring at was his daughter.
"I was lost for words when my kids called me "abah" (daddy). That was the first time I've heard it because she was merely 100 days old when I was arrested... I am truly overcome with emotions because she recognised me, probably because my ex-wife often showed her pictures of me.
"I missed the opportunity to watch them grow. Her brothers have grown too… they are 11 and seven, so different from the last time I held them," he said.
Dey hopes the public can take a page out of his book and to think long and hard in whatever decision they make so that it will not jeopardise their lives.
Penor Prison director Datuk Abu Hassan Hussain said 24 inmates from a total of 2,254 were chosen to participate in the programme, based on their good behaviour and discipline.
"We hope they will make the most of this opportunity to strengthen family ties and can look forward to a brighter future for those who will be released.
"Inmates need family support when they are released to start anew," he said.Also present at the event was Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation chairman Datuk Seri Johny Ch'ng Ewe Gee. - Bernama