KOTA KINABALU, 8 June 2009: The Prisons Act 1995 is to be amended to allow foreigners imprisoned in Malaysia to be transferred to their home countries to serve out their sentence, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said today.
He said the ministry was preparing the draft of the amendment bill pertaining to the powers of the minister to execute the transfer as well as to accept Malaysians serving jail terms abroad.
“The [amended] act will help to ease the congestion in prisons,” he said when opening the Sabah Prisons new headquarters building in Kepayan near here.
Hishammuddin said statistics as of 15 May this year showed that 41% or 15,279 of the 37,242 prisoners in Malaysia were foreigners.
“This will incur heavy costs for the country if allowed to go on,” he said.
Hishammuddin also said the ministry started a parole system in July 2008, where alternative penalties such as community service were introduced.
He said the ministry was considering proposing alternative penalties without imprisonment for minor offences and offences under the Immigration Act.
On the congestion in prisons, he said statistics as at 18 May 2009 showed that the 30 prisons in the country had 36,847 inmates when their capacity was only 32,200 people.
He said the government had approved the construction of 16 new prisons with a capacity of 18,000 people.
Hishammuddin said he would focus on congestion, rehabilitation, standardisation, and key performance index (KPI) to upgrade the service in prisons throughout the country.
Speaking to reporters later, he appealed to employers in Sabah to register their illegal immigrant workers, saying that after a stipulated period the government would expose the companies that failed to do so.
Yesterday, Hishammuddin announced a 50% discount on the foreign worker levy in Sabah from 1 July to 1 Oct in a move to encourage employers to register their illegal immigrant workers.— Bernama