In Johor, activist lawyer offers long-serving prison inmates help over parole eligibility

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

JOHOR BARU, Jan 4 — Unlike others in their late 30s, Sufian (not his real name) was not fortunate enough to fully live through and enjoy his youth due to a mistake he committed when he was in his teens.

For him, those formative years were spent behind bars as part of his sentence for a drug offence when he was found guilty and sentenced while he was a 19-year-old back in 2003.

Now, the 39-year-old Klang native is still languishing in a prison cell in Selangor, without much hope of parole despite being eligible after serving more than two-thirds of his 30-year sentence.

Like any filial son, Sufian longs for maternal love that was lost and is keen to be paroled to dedicate his life to his 65-year-old mother in her remaining years.

Since his incarceration, he has not had the opportunity to even kiss his 65-year-old mother’s hand, as any physical contact is not allowed in prison during visits.

Prominent lawyer and legal activist Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat said Sufian’s case is just an example of thousands of similar cases in our country’s prison system.

By right, he said Sufian should be eligible for parole with his record of good behaviour and having served more than two-thirds of his 30-year life imprisonment.

"Despite being a suitable parole candidate, his status is unknown, but we will seek the authorities’ explanation on his eligibility,” he told Malay Mail when contacted today.

Khairul Anwar is known for his role as an accredited mediator specialising in areas such as human trafficking, as well as women and children’s rights awareness.

The former national award-winning journalist is also an active legal consultant who provides legal services for media practitioners, while assisting needy Malaysians in several cases of public interest.

Khairul Anwar said he will voluntarily assist Sufian through legal means after examining the facts of the case and the latest developments in the country's laws.

"I will work with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and certain foundations to bring this case to the attention of the authorities,” he said.

Khairul Anwar explained that it was premature to comment more on Sufian’s case, but said that he is fully committed to assisting him.

"My role is not only to look into Sufian’s case, but also to assist as many eligible prison inmates as possible.

"This includes those who have served at least two-thirds of their prison sentences, have been granted a Royal Pardon, have good behaviour records, as well as those who have gone through reformation and rehabilitation,” he said.

Earlier, Khairul Anwar highlighted Sufian‘s plight on his personal Facebook page, sharing that the latter had spent two decades behind bars serving his life sentence under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

As we enter the new year, he said there were some who longed for their family’s love but were at a loss due to their incarceration behind bars.

Khairul Anwar also brought up the issue of parole eligibility, for what he believed were many long-serving inmates in prison.