3:54pm 21/09/2022
Najib vs the ordinary convict
By:Mariam Mokhtar

Most of us have no idea what the prison routine is like, but judging from what we read in the papers and watch in films, as soon as a sentence is passed by the judge, the prisoner is taken straight to prison from court.

In prison, the prisoner surrenders his belongings. He is not allowed a mobile phone.

In Malaysia, he is stripped of his honorifics and becomes just a prisoner recognized by his serial number.

He is no longer the celebrity or high profile personality of the world outside. In prison, he is just another person who will spend time behind bars.

He may be allowed to keep a small amount of cash for phone calls. Depending on the type of crime committed, he may be strip searched.

The prisoner eats what the prison kitchens serve, and there are no special dishes or treats, but if he works in the kitchen, it is possible that he may have access to some extra food.

At meal times, the prisoner is not waited upon and served, like he would be in a fancy restaurant. He queues up with the other inmates, and his food is dished onto a tray.

He follows the strict prison schedule and is woken up very early in the morning. He must return to his cell at a set time in early evening and his cell-door is locked until the morning.

There are specific times for a shower. There are no hot and cold water taps. There is only cold water.

His cell will have a toilet bowl and sink, and there is no privacy for him to wash, or when he answers the call of nature.

In Malaysian prisons, we are often told that the toilet is just a hole in the floor. Perhaps, this hole in the floor is actually a squat latrine.

Prison life is not like a hospital where he can have frequent visits from family or friends. It is not a holiday camp where the prisoner can just wander around and do as he pleases. He must follow the rules.

To access books, he puts in a request for reading materials. When he is allowed visits, his visitors cannot smuggle food, drugs or other items. If caught, the penalties are severe.

If the prisoner is deemed to be a target for some groups of inmates who may wish to harm him, the warden may decide that the prisoner should spend time in isolation for his own safety.

We are often told that in Malaysia all prisoners are treated equally and that the convicted felon, Najib Abdul Razak, will not be given special treatment.

Most of us find this hard to believe.

The prison service may claim that all prisoners are treated equally, but from what we read, it appears that Najib is more equal than everyone else.

Many Malaysians reacted with outrage when Najib fell ill after a week in prison in Kajang, and was rushed to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

The prison clinic was allegedly inadequately stocked with medicine and highly qualified medical staff.

We then read news reports that Najib’s daughter and family complained about the inferior treatment he received in hospital, and this prompted Ismail Sabri, the prime minister, to demand that the hospital give Najib the best medical care.

Why should Najib receive special treatment? Why should the prime minister intervene?

What have the other prisoners, not just in Kajang but throughout Malaysia, have to say about this?

What are the reactions of the families of prisoners, some of whom may have also needed urgent and specialized medical care but were denied these whilst they were in prison?

We are also informed that Najib and the other prisoners are given five meals a day. The shame is that outside of the prison walls, some families cannot even afford one meal a day. Most people only have three meals a day, but why is Najib having five meals a day?

Najib must attend his ongoing 1MDB trials. Why wasn’t he transported in the police van, the Black Maria, and why was he all dressed up in his suit and tie? Is it too humiliating for him to be dressed in the orange prison uniform?

By all means look smart, but being suited, makes a mockery of justice.

Why should Najib be allowed to cause havoc and dissatisfaction in the prison?

We are told that his cell has an electric fan. He is protected by guards because people may wish to harm him.

Why not just put him in solitary confinement? Why waste more taxpayers’ money on him?

Now is not the time to feel sorry for Najib. Did he feel sorry for the rakyat when he stole hundreds of millions of ringgit from them?

There are strong rumors that Najib’s cell is being renovated to make him comfortable. Do the authorities think Najib’s stay should be treated like a trip to Disneyland?

What about the other prisoners? This is not equality if the same preferential treatment is not extended to other convicts.

The rumors also talk about Najib being given a phone and WiFi. These should all be banned. Prison life is supposed to teach Najib a lesson for all his wrongdoings.

Najib committed some very serious crimes. He should be deprived of all the freedoms that a normal person enjoys.

Many Malaysians compare Najib’s preferential treatment with that received by other inmates. Some did not receive medical help and sadly died in prison.

Conversely, Najib was rushed to Kuala Lumpur Hospital where he was immediately seen by the doctors. Even ordinary Malaysians take months just to receive specialist treatment!

The prison service may claim that all prisoners are treated equally, but from what we read, it appears that Najib is more equal than everyone else.


  1. Malaysiakini: ‘Merpati’ message claims Najib’s wings not clipped, Rafizi wants answers
  2. Malaysiakini: Najib’s senior at Kajang prison swoops on ‘privileges for pigeon’

(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)


Mariam Mokhtar
Najib Razak


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