No Deepavali celebration at two Kedah prisons

ALOR SETAR: There will be no festive programmes for inmates who celebrate Deepavali at two prisons in Kedah during the Festival of Lights next week in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, says a state exco member.

Kedah Indian community affairs committee chairman Azman Nasrudin said the state authorities had no plans to hold any feast or celebration at the Alor Setar and Sungai Petani prisons even with the enhanced movement control order (MCO) lifted on Oct 31 and Wednesday respectively.

“In previous years, inmates could enjoy the celebration during family visits.

“There were also festive programmes organised by the prison authorities.

“But this year, it will be more on adhering to the government’s standard operating procedure, ” he said here yesterday.

Asked if there was any request from the Indian community leaders to hold festive celebrations at the prisons, Azman said there was none so far, adding that the leaders understood the seriousness of the situation.

“They understand our stand that festive celebration should not be held this year, unlike previous years, ” he said.

Besides the two prisons, another prison in the state – Pokok Sena – is still under enhanced MCO until Nov 7.

As of Tuesday, there were 1,227 Covid-19 cases recorded at Alor Setar prison, followed by Pokok Sena prison (436) and Sungai Petani prison (105).

It is understood that the enhanced MCO was imposed on the blocks where inmates tested positive for Covid-19.

This resulted in the tightening of standard operating procedure such as the prohibition of physical movement in and out of the prisons and conditional entry and exit for staff and wardens.

Visits by family members, embassy lawyers, NGOs and outsiders are also not allowed throughout the period.

A prison warden who declined to be named told The Star that no programmes would be held during Deepavali even if the enhanced MCO was not extended at the prisons.

“This is a measure to prevent the virus from spreading again, ” he said.

Meanwhile, Penang Prisons director Roslan Mohamed said to prevent more outbreaks, celebrations might not be held for prison inmates during Deepavali, which is celebrated on Nov 14 this year.

The enhanced MCO at the Seberang Prai Prison and Seberang Prai prison quarters has been extended until Nov 18, while the enhanced MCO at Penang Remand prison and its quarters had ended.

Prisons Department director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Omar, in a statement on Tuesday, said the department would continue with its no-visit policy even after the enhanced MCO is lifted on all its prisons nationwide.

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