Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said besides giving prison parolees the opportunity to craft out a bright future for themselves, it also reduced congestion in jails.
“Our initial purpose was to firstly counter overcapacity in prisons by reducing the number of inmates living there. This way, they are out of the prisons by serving in the community,’’ Hamzah told a press conference at the Panasonic Appliances Air-Conditioning Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Papamy) premises on Thursday (Oct 14).
He said besides helping the Parole Board and Prison Department to reduce inmates, the programme also helped prisoners who had committed minor crimes to receive skills training and employment opportunities.
Hamzah said the training programmes were conducted in many places nationwide.
According to the minister, he had met Finance Minister Tengke Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz to discuss helping the Prison Department to train its wardens and officers, who will in turn, train and share their acquired skills with the inmates.
He said the internship programme increased the nation’s productivity and at the same time, reduced dependence on foreign labour.
He said the internship programme was initiated in 2016 with government agency Felcra Berhad being the first to take in the parolees as trainees.
However, prisoners were not picked randomly and placed in internship programmes, and a proper means test is conducted in the prisons to pick out those who meet the set criteria.
He said the prisoners were interviewed and before being sent out, they must be ready physically and mentally.
Earlier in his speech, Hamzah said the arrangement was a win-win situation for all parties involved and hoped more such collaborations will take place across the various industries.
He added he hoped to visit the various establishments that collaborated with the Prison Department’s internship programme.
According to Hamzah, the programme has proven to be a success in spite of the early doubts of its efficacy.
“Earlier, we had our doubts if this could work or not,’’ said Hamzah, adding that the programme was currently giving parolees hope for a better future.
He said the parolee had in the past done things that they themselves were not in favour of and were not accepted by society and pushed aside.
“This (programme) has proven that they can be helped. We tell them (the parolees) to forget the past and think of the future. We want them to know that they too can contribute to the nation and become valued members of society,’’ said Hamzah.
He said once the internship programme comes to an end, companies can absorb the former parolees as full time staff.
Papamy has so far absorbed 25 former trainees as permanent staff with two of them even meeting their life partners at the Panasonic factory.
A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed at the event between the Prison Department and Panasonic.