Group urges Putrajaya to release White Paper on home detention policy, expresses concern over potential abuse, legal disparities

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Projek SAMA today has called for a White Paper on the proposed introduction of home detention as an alternative to imprisonment for select prisoners to prevent potential abuse and the emergence of a two-tiered legal system.

The organisation said the White Paper will instil public trust that house arrest will not transform into an exclusive benefit for influential criminals or, worse, be manipulated as a bargaining tool in political negotiations.

“The White Paper must present the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of this mechanism, feedback from stakeholders, and most of all, demonstrate a transparent, consistent, professional, and accountable process to determine the eligibility of applicants,” it said in a statement.

It said if former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, a convict in the 1MDB corruption case, employs home detention as a covert strategy to escape imprisonment, the trust deficit between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his government, and both Malaysians and the international community will worsen.

The organisation further added that the Malaysian ringgit may also face more depreciation if the government is perceived as vulnerable not just to ‘elite capture’ but also ‘prisoners’ capture’.

“Projek SAMA reminds Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim that his government no longer enjoys credibility in reforms or in the fight against corruption which it enjoyed when it came into power 15 months ago.

“Also, (Projek SAMA) reminds the prime minister the result of the decision to abuse the long-established pardon process and to fast track the pardon application by an unrepentant, world-class corruption convict who’s still facing three other corruption trials, and who still hasn’t even served one-third of his jail term,” it said.

The organisation then went on to say that as a consequence of prioritising his application over many deserving candidates, Malaysians now harbour increased scepticism towards the government’s new initiatives.

Referring to the recent event where the “Malaysia Madani white rice” policy was announced by Bukit Gantang MP Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal, the organisation said that the resulting negative reaction was widespread and posed threats and embarrassment for the government.

Projek SAMA urged the government to establish a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) where every significant policy or reform initiative, such as home detentions, rice price control, or civil servant pension reform, must undergo the process of having a White Paper presented and debated in Parliament before implementation.

“If the government is only studying a certain issue without a firm commitment to a particular solution, then a green paper should be published to lay down basic facts, considered options and parameters for public debate,” it said.

It further said the White Paper is essential for the government to alleviate its substantial trust deficit, rebuild local and international confidence in Malaysia, promote investment, and contribute to stabilising the decline of the ringgit.

On Saturday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said that his ministry is currently in the process of examining the implementation method from the point of view of relevant legal provisions, to ensure whether the existing laws and regulations need to be enacted or not.

“It needs to be reviewed whether it is sufficient to amend the existing laws, or whether there is a need to enact a new law under the authority of the Prisons Department director-general or the Home Ministry. I asked the Home Ministry secretary-general (Datuk Ruji Ubi) to review and provide feedback. This matter must be expedited,” he said during a press conference after the 234th Prison Day celebration at the Puncak Borneo Prison Complex.