Malaysian Jail

This is a very rudimentary written experience of a friend, I wrote this for him for the Australian Court system.

During, February 2010, I traveled to Malaysia to carry out consultancy work for Bluefin Seafoods.  I was diving in several locations throughout Malaysia with Bluefin’s marine scientist, conducting research for the sea cucumber farming industry. 


Initially, I went to the Australian embassy because my passport went through the wash.  While exiting the Australian Embassy I was immediately arrested by Interpol.  I was handcuffed, shoved in a car and later, handed over to the Royal Malaysian Police.  Whilst in the car an Interpol officer explained they would hand me over to the Australian Federal Police within three days.


The Royal Malaysian Police kept me in a tiny cell (2m x 2m) and gave me half a liter of dirty water to drink each day.  On my second day, the Australian Ambassador visited me and said, “It could take up to ten days to get you sent back to Australia and your family has to pay for your ticket.”  Interpol entered my cell on my third day, handcuffed me and propelled me into a car.  We drove for approximately one hour to Bukit Jalin Police lockup. 


On arrival, I was thrust into a large empty (10 x10m) concrete cell and the guards took my handcuffs off.  I remained alone in the cell for half a day (with no water) until a group of ten or so prisoners were placed in my cell.  After a few hours, each prisoner was thrown a small packet of rice with no water.


The processing rigmarole was traumatic and tedious. I was then taken into a building about the size of a school hall or gymnasium, with approximately two hundred and fifty prisoners.  These people were the worst, most disgusting people I had ever seen in my life; some looked like Prisoner-of-war’s and some looked like they had gangrene.  These prisoners were particularly unhealthy and obviously disease ridden.


The prison included around twenty cages, each had up to seventeen people in the individual concrete cells.  There were no blankets provided, but there was a filthy Muslim toilet with a tap directly next to it, the stench was so awful it reminded me of a sewer or a zoo.  Noisy industrial fans were in the walls, every two to three meters, along both sides of the building.  The noise was outrageously loud.  There were no windows in the building and the fluorescent lights stayed on twenty-four, seven.   The combination of the relentless, continual humming of the fans and screaming people was getting to me. I was afraid I would become crazy.


I was thrown into one of these cages (2 x 6m) and there were about twelve to fifteen prisoners of Indian, Thai, Malay and Myamar descent. The Indians were touching me as if they had never seen a white person before.  To the extent, that, four or five of these individuals were mauling me.  I felt as if they were trying to rape me.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an Iranian man handing out tobacco through a cage; he came over, yelled at the Indians and they abruptly stopped. I couldn’t believe my luck.


The stranger introduced himself as Ali. He said, “I will get the key off a young man called ‘Boy’”.  Half an hour later, he came back with the ‘Boy’, opened my cage door and moved me into his personal cell, where there were only six people.  I was extremely relieved but still crying, panicking and shaking.


I had been in this building for the worst forty minutes of my entire life.  Ali felt sorry for me, as I was the only white person and didn’t belong in that particular jail, being an Australian citizen.


It was obvious this ‘Ali’ character was paying the guards because he was telling everyone (including the guards) what to do.  Whilst in Ali’s cell, I discovered he had a high statue amongst the prisoners and guards, due to tobacco dealings.  Tobacco, being very valuable in a place like that.  Ali got around it by getting the guards to bring in the tobacco.


Several hours later I had calmed down and Ali gave me the run down of the establishment.  He knew a lot about Malaysia and their law.  He also explained to me that they could not keep me in this Malaysian prison for longer than fourteen days.  Ali told me horrific stories of the main prisons of Malaysia and said to me, “They don’t even keep animals in a zoo like this”.  I could smell and see people all around me, including one Indian in our cage smoking something on foil (presumably ice).  I was terrified I would get into trouble by the guards because this creep was smoking something illegal in my cell.  The rule of the place is: If one person gets caught everybody gets into trouble.  When Ali came back he kicked him out.


Every second, I worried and panicked because half of the prisoners were smoking herion and ice, the guards were the suppliers.  Most of the guards were really mean and some were wearing masks – as if there were a lot of diseased prisoners.  Were deceased and were being carried out by other prisoners. 


I was not allowed out of the cell except for when ‘Boy’ came and opened the door to let me out for drinking water.  Along with other inmates, I went into the guards’ office, I was instructed to squat down and wait for the guards to allow me to fill my water bottle. 


Still in Bukit Jalin Police, the third day bought me severe grief because I was without Ali.  As usual, I was waiting for water at the guards’ office.  One particular guard instructed me to sit on the chair next to him, he asked me all kinds of weird questions while making fun of me.  Suddenly, he ripped my pants down and kicked me off my chair.  He then grabbed my penis and was intending to bash me with his baton. Frightened, I pushed him aside, pulled my pants up and with the help of ‘Boy’ I ran to the door and entered the noisy block full of cages.


On returning to my cage, I told Ali (whom hated the guards because they were so corrupt and nasty, for example, he threw the bag of rotten fish and rice back at them after they had thrown it at us) what had just transpired and he ran into the office and was screaming and fighting with the guards for approx fifteen minutes.  Again, I was shaking, scared and my heart pounding, whilst a mob of prisoners heard Ali yelling, ran to him and backed him for a semi riot.  Ali came back with a lot of scratches, blood and bruises covering his face, arms and legs.


Meanwhile I was coming to terms my own personal hell, the fighting, yelling, screaming and arguing continued for another ten days and didn’t help with my mental attitude.  Ali said, “They will take you home, for sure.”  I was worried that the authorities would take me to the horrible prison that Ali had told me about.  I was hopeful that they could only keep me in Malaysia for fourteen days.


On the twenty sixth of March (2010), two Malaysian police officers came to Bukit Jalin Police prison and drove me to the Magistrates court.  I was not allowed to make phone calls or see the embassy people.  They left me handcuffed in a cell for several hours. They stood me in front of the judge (with no help or legal representation-it was not offered) and read out the Australian drug charges. The Malaysian national lawyers stood up and said, “We recommend that he stay at the Sungai Buloh Prison for the maximum one hundred days.”


On hearing this, my heart dropped and I was extremely devastated.

“Why was the Australian Government doing this to me in this country?

It has been two weeks and that’s when they had promised I could go home”.


After the hearing, the guards took me downstairs into a putrid stinking concrete cell.  On the way down, I observed prisoners smoking ice in the toilet, in the holding cells, under the Magistrates Court.  The cell was inhabited by horrible people; not only did some have manic ice driven episodes, most had sores, puss, cuts, bruises, dirt, blood and were generally unhealthy and maltreated.  I conversed with a few prisoners and they told me that the jail we were going to was hell.


I found out that many of the people were there for horrific crimes, this, and the thought of the unknown was scaring me. I really could not believe that this was happening to me.  “I would never have come near the place, if I knew Malaysia was like this.”


At the end of the day, the guards handcuffed me and attached me to a five-meter chain attached to fifty others.  They dragged us outside and shoved us into a big truck with no seats, still chained together. We were sitting on the floor and some crazy fucked up people were fighting, they were literally dragging us around the bed of the truck because of the chains.  The stupid driver of the truck was not making my anxious state any better; he was overtaking on mountains whilst driving as fast as he could, siren blaring for an hour and a half.


With a screeching stop, we ended up at a big prison in the middle of the jungle.  We were taken in and made to sit down on a concrete floor for six hours while being treated like shit.  They were military-commando-like guards and they were everywhere.  They were wearing masks and were called the ‘UKP’. 


The ‘UKP’ were mean looking and extremely violent towards everyone.  Some of them would look at me like they were about to bash me (and they did over the three months).  I was asked to do some paper work and as I looked at one of them he got aggressive.  He yelled, “Fuck you”. Then hit me repeatedly.


This place was disgustingly dirty; the ‘UKP’ shaved my hair with a dirty electric shaver that shaved thousands of others’ heads.  They gave us a cup, a piece of soap, a torn dirty piece of blanket and some foam.  We were sent into other rooms, where they stripped and searched us, all the time, yelling, screaming and asking questions. 


They then pushed us through a door and into some kind of cage like place with twenty-foot fences and razor wire everywhere.  There were blocks of cells with five to six hundred people.  It looked like a 1950’s prison from the movies – all concrete and steel.


We entered the quarantine section at around seven pm, which was occupied by eighty to one hundred people in one rectangular squared cell (5 x 20m).  Two Nigerian prisoners told me to stick with them and they found me a spot to sleep.  It was terrifying; people were running around screaming, prisoners bashing prisoners and prisoners smoking ice.  There was a real bad gang lurking at the back of the cell and not a guard to be seen. We were given no food or water.  The toilets consisted of three holes in the floor.  The place stunk because piss and shit was everywhere, even underfoot.  There was one big polluted plastic tub of water and a tap for everyone to wash themselves by using their cups and pouring the water over themselves.


After trying to sleep and tripping out all night, the guards came in, opened the door and allowed us to walk out and get a cup of tea from an old dirty barrel.  For lunch and dinner we were given some rice and two small rotten fish, which they served on an unwashed plastic tray.  The prisoners were supposed to wash their own plates but there was nothing to wash them with, which rarely happened.  I had to wait in this place for six days.


It was time to move into the permanent part of the prison and on the way out they made us sit in groups, they then called each person up and took blood samples with the same equipment.  The bloody instruments, for example, cotton balls were thrown on the ground.  I somehow avoided getting one of those dirty needles piercing me.


The cell I was thrown into (in the permanent sector) was rotten, the filthy toilet was blocked and the guards refused to fix it.  Six or seven Chinese men occupied the pungent cell; one of them spoke English, to my relief.  He told me how prisoners were hanging themselves in my previous cell and how corrupt the system is in Malaysia.  He said, “People are treated very badly in this place”.  Again, I was horrified of what I was seeing and hearing.


A few days had transpired and I was made to participate in military exercises, from nine to twelve each day.  The UKP guards dragged a group of prisoners into the middle of a field.  We were made to do all kinds of exercise, push ups, marching and running around the edge on hot ash felt with no shoes, whilst yelling Malaysian chants.  I tried to tell them that my back was giving up (I broke my back in 1997) and asked to be excused.   The UKP just yelled and screamed and told me to get back out there.


We were made to carry one another from one end of the field around the goalposts and back, taking it in turn.  The UKP were bashing the running people with their batons and kicking them in their stomachs.  I only copped a couple of hits on my head with a baton but repeatedly explained that I was an Australian citizen.  They were making fun of me.


“They couldn’t do that to me.” 


By the third day of military training my back became dreadfully painful.  I could not run and it was difficult to do anything.  On finishing an exhausting session, I was last in line.  They pulled the stragglers aside and tortured us for three hours.  It was as if the UKP guards were on a power trip, they yelled and screamed the whole time while making us lie down and roll all over the room. My back was killing me and I was hot and dizzy but I struggled on and sometimes crawled when they weren’t looking.  I felt like I was going to die. The ten guards were aiming their egos’ at me, they were yelling, “Fucking Australia”.  They thought they were funny and were laughing at me.


The UKP guards continuously raided cells in the middle of the night.  They were looking for anything including tobacco; if one person was smoking, everybody was locked up.  The idea of the completely dark solitary cells and moldy bread made me weary


Afterwards, I had had enough and asked the guards to see a doctor and the Australian embassy.  They allowed me to see the doctor at their so-called hospital and it was an absolute nightmare.  I had to squat down and was handcuffed as soon as I entered the building. I had to wait for two hours in a dirty, old room.  Some of the people I was waiting with looked half dead.


Finally on the fourth week, I saw the prison doctor, I told him my condition, and he requested that I go to the local town hospital but it wasn’t a week or two until they took me.  Secretly, I stood on a set of scales in the hospital and I was down to 58 kg.  The shorts I was wearing when this nightmare began were falling down on me now.  The hospital doctor gave me two blue paracetamol tablets and other unidentified tablets.


By this time I had spoken to the Australian Embassy and was told that my father had sent me some money so that I could buy some food in the store.  The expensive food was no better than what they had been serving in the cells.  Also, the embassy representative gave me a phone card. Except, I had to wait a week to make any phone calls or buy from the shop.


Throughout my whole time in the Sungai Buloh Prison, whenever I requested something, such as – a phone call to the embassy, the guards would yell and scream at me and make me squat down and beg.  Everything in this place was so difficult, to ask a question, to go outside, it was all difficult.


I told the embassy my worries about the shaving device.  They made me shave once a week with the same electric shaver that thousands of other diseased men used.  The guards were very mean and rough when it was my turn.  I was afraid of catching all types of diseases (and did) from the razor and requested to clean it but they wouldn’t let me.  I asked the embassy if I could get my own razor.  I said, “This is ridiculous, you can’t let them do this to me.” The embassy people replied, “We will see what we can do.”  I also asked for clean water as I was drinking rusty, highly chlorinated water. They did not give me much help because they did not even know what was going on.  I just had to use their filthy razor and hope I didn’t get HIV, HEP C or TB.


Eventually I was allowed to make a few phone calls to my family.  My father told me he was trying his best with my lawyer in Australia to bring me back home.  It felt good to talk to my people but it didn’t raise my spirits.


I was only allowed to leave my cell once a week for about three hours and was only getting ten to twenty minutes sleep a day.  I was sweating so much due to my high blood pressure.  I was only drinking a cup full of water every day because it was so dirty.


My mental state and the situation including the surroundings were causing my whole system to shut down.  I had not slept for several weeks and I was wetting myself in the night frequently.  My heart was pounding fast and loud constantly and I was sweating profusely.  I was getting really worried because people were dieing all around me.  In an adjoining cell with Iranian occupants, they asked if they could send their mate to the hospital.  The guards said no and their mate died. 


One night I got so bad (my veins were popping out all over my body), I was lying down, thinking, I was going to die.  One guard noticed, picked me up and took me to the so-called-prison-hospital. I was placed in a wheel chair and all of the other guards just stared at me.  


This time, I was given some more tablets; I awoke the next morning in a dirty, filthy, soiled, bloody bed.  This hospital was so disgusting and is difficult to describe.  There were patients with green all over them and wounds were oozing puss.  A cage of skinny, dirty men was up the back of the hospital, the AID’s people who were left there to die.


I told them to get me out of there but they wouldn’t sign off my release and I stayed for three nights.  I drank water from used yellow biohazard medical waste buckets.  The hospital was rat infested and disgustingly filthy.  I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t release me.


A crazy doctor came to see me and gave me two tablets (he didn’t say what they were) and said, “If you have them, you can go.”  I knew I shouldn’t, but I took them. They let me go back to my cell.  Immediately, I started feeling completely different.  Three hours later, in my cell, I started tripping out.  I asked another prisoner, “Why is everything so quiet?”  This was unusually strange because the entire prison was outrageously loud from sun up to two am.  Everything went really strange for me; I could sleep for the first time.


I am still not the same after those tablets and have since tried to find out what they were.


I now saw the doctor on a regular basis, along with many prisoners who were seeing the doctor once a week and receiving a range of tablets.  I assume that they were to get rid of scabies and there was the blue paracetamol tablets and laxatives.  I was blocked up from the terrible food, I had scabies, and I was feverish and was sick.  On one of these weekly visits to the doctor they grabbed me and injected me with something that made me awfully sick.


Again, I asked the embassy for bottled drinking water, they said, “We can not make any promises.”  I was so sick by this stage and I noticed people were filtering their water with cotton but I could not do this, as I was incapable due to my condition.  Some prisoners were giving me their filtered water because it was so obvious I was sick.  The Iranians told me that if you drink the water for a period of time, the water ruins parts of your bodily functions.  Also, he was showing me the water makes your skin peel badly.  I realized my skin was peeling.


Tamal Tiger terrorists and rebels resided in this prison and they started many fights and fires.  They caused major problems for the other inmates; they even stabbed a few people in their brawls.  Lucky they didn’t get me, as I was the only white person except for one young American, who came later.


I had to move cells several times, due to; too many Chinese in the first one and the toilet was blocked- it was disgusting, the next cell were full of Africans and they were just yelling and screaming every all night. 


During my time, I asked a few of the older, wiser inmates, if they had seen any Aussies in the Sungai Buloh Prison.  One answered, “There was one Australian man here before, about a year ago, he was only here for about ten days.”  They asked me with real concern, “Why is your country keeping you here? When you have done nothing wrong in this country?”


The Australian Embassy said I would be taken out in seven days and each day became more and more of a nightmare.  All up I was held for one hundred days, which felt like a lifetime.  I do have difficulty recounting the experience, which continues to trouble me and I will never get over it.  This whole experience has certainly caused me to reflect on my life because of my foolish ways.


I was exposed to the worst experience of my life. I now realize that I had a drug problem prior to the time I was held in prison.  Being held like I was alerted me to the risks of drugs.  Since my arrest and return to Australia I feel like I have come out of a ‘coma’.  I am so remorseful and grateful to be living at home with my father and going to work (with my brother) for a shop fitting company.

Published by Julie-Ann Pearl Ellis

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One thought on “Malaysian Jail

  1. How depressing… a friend of mine has just been sent to this jail and now I’m terrified for him even more as he’s not getting out any time soon 😦

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