Life Inside Malaysia Immigration Detention Center

Life inside immigration detention center, one of suffering, violence, cruel inhumane treatment, torture, injustices etc.

We have read of many horror stories of undocumented migrants’ intense sufferings within the walls of detention depots run by the Immigration Department of Malaysia detention centers, but we know very little of what they actually go through.

This post sought to shed light into what is life inside these detention depots for these undocumented migrants and any foreigner detained using the Malaysia Immigration Act (IA) 155. The IA 155 is anti-foreigners and anti-human rights as it discriminates against foreigners. According to the IA section 51(5)(b) legal requirement. a foreigner is required only to be produced within 14 days before a magistrate for remand order, whereas a citizen is legally required to be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours according to the Malaysia Federal Constitution Article 5(4).

Shrouded in secrecy intentionally

All these detention depots are behind high walls with high security to shroud in secrecy what goes on inside these protected buildings from public view. There is very little information and news publish publicly regarding the conditions and treatment of foreigners being detained inside. It is commonly known among the public that Immigration Department of Malaysia will censor every information of what goes on inside these depots. It is the same censorship of news with the activities of immigration officers and immigration guards within the walls of immigration detention depots. The police raid on Al Jazeera’s office is an example of this draconian censorship.

The reason is that there are too many skeletons and maggots inside the immigration department detention depots. This infamous and notorious detention depot is known for the hostile, oppressive, unhygienic, inhumane conditions, and sadistic treatment of migrants and foreigners being detained. They are very afraid the international community will know the truth about the human rights abuses on these migrants and foreigners being detained in Malaysia.

Pekan Nenas Immigration Depot main gate

Foreigners’ human rights trampled upon

When I was detained inside their detention depot for 35 days, I was the only Singaporean national with one Australian national and a Japanese national. I witnessed that no immigration officers dared to touch the Australian national who was involved in a fight with others. A day or so, a senior immigration officer could only swap out this Australian national to replace with a Japanese national, this senior officer showing a meek subservience to this Australian national.

Many could be undocumented foreigners or migrant workers from third world countries, namely from Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and a few from the poor Indochinese countries. Some of these foreigners have been in Malaysia to make a living legally, some illegally after being cheated by human traffickers, some with expired document, some without any documentation and some ran into problems with immigration or police officers.

As long as one is a foreigner and suspected of offences listed in the Immigration Act, one will be easily detained and deprived of their UN-chartered human rights. The reason is that there is no checks and controls on the Immigration Acts section 51(5)(b) and immigration officers detained foreigners at their whims and fancies. This is proven in the KL high court of Malaysia.

For these foreigners, it will be a life of deprivation, of inhumane treatment, of violence on them, of injustices, loss of liberty and freedom over long period. Sadly, the international human rights community is not taking enough notice of this abuse. By shining a light into this dark world of immigration department, it is hoped to bring awareness to many.

Compound has tight security and off-limit to public

This article describes the physical building and the environment of one detention facilities owned and run by Malaysia Immigration Department of Malaysia. This facility is called Pekan Nenas (sometimes it is spell as Nanas) Immigration Detention Depot. Pekan Nenas is a Malay word which means Pineapple town. Pekan Nenas depot is in Johor state while there are other equivalent facilities in other states of Malaysia. Regardless of which facilities, they operate with similar SOP and the inhumane conditions are similar throughout.

The name Pekan Nenas may concoct a picture of tranquil vegetation landscape in surrounding with flowers and flowing stream but in reality, is a place of “living hell”. Those who have to spend their days inside and cut-off from civilization will attest to that. You will see why it is describing as inhumane and a “living hell” according to American singer, Maggie Lindemann.

There are 4 blocks of two-storey male detention cells and 1 block of female detention cell. The four male detention cells and the sole female detention cell are in separate areas.

Upon entering through the main entrance, the detainees are led down from the van to the car park area in front of the administration office for processing. In this area, they ordered us to sit down in rows by rows here while they processed the paperwork.

Here, everyone is handcuffed together with other arrested immigration offenders and goes through the immigration Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Because every day there are tens or hundreds arrested, the SOP operation requires to register every immigration offender is like herding cattle.

Pekan Nanas Immigration detention depot
Pekan Nenas Immigration Detention Depot

The criminalization process of all detainees

They will be linked together by handcuffs all the time whenever they are move from one location to another. Everyone who are arrested will have all 10 fingers ink-printed and mugshots taken in the registering process. So instead of hearing anyone from the immigration telling you something else, this is the SOP for arrest and detention under their Immigration Acts.

Regardless of what a foreigner has committed, as long as it can be linked or tagged to an immigration offence, you will be at the mercy of the immigration officer. There are already many documented cases on record involving Americans like Maggie, Singaporeans like Joshua or Filipinos like those mothers and their young children that support this point.

Even for simple infraction like overstaying for a few days can land you in being an Immigration Act offender. There are even cases where a migrant worker’s passport was thrown away by a police officer and arrested as without valid documentation. These are cases that I have encountered and heard from the migrant person himself during my detention inside.

Total humiliations and subjugation

Before being locked inside the detention cell, the detainees will go through a registering process with the office administration within the facilities. During the registering process held at the staging area, immigration officers would intimidate, threatened and shouted/screamed at detainees. Immigration officers picked detainees at random to beat some as a warning to others. This is to project that we are all at their mercies within these compounds which are shrouded in secrecy from the public eyes.

They will totally humiliate and subjugate you into feeling total helplessness as you are in a foreign land. This environmental, psychological, physical torture and the cruel and inhumane conditions is the “living hell” described by Maggie Lindemann.

Immigration officers and guards are assigned to keep you under 24/7 control and make you to fear them with their sadistic behavior. You will be locked inside a cramped detention cell together with about 130 foreigners (during my detention time) 24/7. Whenever every time you are let outside of the cell, you will be escorted by an immigration guard. If you have a medical emergency and there are no immigration guard available, you will be left waiting for hours till one is available to escort you. I personally experienced this lengthy delay and deaths inside these detention depots could be linked to emergency medical treatment at clinic or hospital being delayed till an escort is available.

Starting life inside oppressive and inhumane detention cells

You will be assigned a number which you will be known throughout your detention during the registration process. Then you have to surrender all your belongings and left with the only set of clothes that you were wearing and nothing else till your family visit you and bring you the necessary hygiene items.

Once they had completed the registration process of the group, they escorted us into the tight-security detention blocks area that are additionally fenced up surrounding the blocks. While being staged at this area, they ordered us into a small room in small batches. They will subject us to a full naked body search and a naked quick-paced squat-stand-squat torture. Some guards insisted on this torture while one guard waive it because of my medical asthma condition. I surmised that should any medical emergency happened, there is always the SOP to be blamed and no one would be accountable. This was the case with the Nigerian national PhD student case.

After the naked body search, we pick up our clothes and were sent into the block lock-up cell. Once when I picked up my bible together with my clothes, I was assaulted by one of their guards. It was an unjustified assault as I which I was given permission by their own immigration guard to bring along with me inside to read. The bible was confiscated for no reasons, and the immigration guards even refused to return it back when I was released. It was upon my vehement complaint to the escorting officer that it was then returned.

Para 10 of affidavit (AIS)

Finally, you are herded to be locked inside the block detention cell and detainees entered the detention cell without any personal hygiene items but one set of own clothes. Being cut off from civilization, you will not be able to communicate with anyone who knows you till God knows when for some of them. Some have languished inside for years with no news of their family or friends. No phone calls allowed from the time you were arrested, and you are under constant watch that this is not breached.

No exception to Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

This SOP applies in all the immigration detention depots. American singer, Maggie have truly expressed that it is 5 days of “living hell” for her experience. It is the same experience for my 35 days detention, of which 21 days were declared illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

Then there is another Singaporean sharing similar experience and even sued the Immigration Department of Malaysia Director General in court. It is the same for the few Filipinos mums and their children that a human rights NGO has to intervenes and a complaint made to the Home Minister.

This SOP is faceless and nameless and is used as the scapegoat and blame for any “incident”. That makes it suitable to deflect all accountabilities and responsibilities for deaths within detention depot. Medical emergency, where time is of the essence, will also have to wait for the availability of an immigration guard to escort the detainee for medical treatment.

Description and layout of detention cell block

Though the building is hidden away to shroud all the horrors inside in secrecy, we, having been inside, can share out to the public so that the public can know the truth.

The detention cells are in two story building and there are a total of four blocks for male detainees.

It is an open view on all four sides with steel grilles set into concrete low wall. One cell block faces the staging area where all the detainees in that cell block could witness in direct view the assault on one Indonesian national detainee and of one very sickly Indian national detainee waiting for emergency medical treatment.

Pekan Nenas Immigration Detention Depot compound, courtesy of Malaysiakini
Pekan Nenas Immigration Detention cell block, courtesy of Malaysiakini
Malaysia immigration detention center cell layout

The breadth of the cell is about 16 feet of three rows of about 5.5 feet, 5 feet, 5.5 feet row. It can be estimated 16 feet for the breadth of cell. This is because the detainees are sleeping side by side in three rows. The detainees do not have enough leg room to stretch out to sleep and the average height is 5 feet 4 inches.

In the front of the cell is a raised concrete platform right up to the length to before the gate door. The length of platform is estimated about 8 feet length. Then after the platform is the metal gate door. After the gate door is the length used for sleeping up to the back metal gate door.

After this gate door is the toilet area where a water tank is. The length of this space for sleeping can be calculated. By using 22 inches for the breadth wise of human body side by side, we calculated it is about 78 feet for the length. So, using 78 feet length by 16 feet breadth, we get about 1,248 square feet of sleeping space. This is the sleeping space for 130 people and is very cramped. It is surrounded by open mesh metal grill embedded onto concrete pillars walls. This is to provide for an all-round open view. The detainees can witness incidents happening outside. Sometimes they witnessed detainees getting beaten up. It is also meant to ensure that the detainees are being watched 24/7 hours X 365 days.

Bed bugs infested planks leading to sleep deprivation

For our sleeping are two rows of raised level that have wooden planks, designed for sleeping. But because all these old wooden planks have been infested with blood-sucking bed bugs, it makes falling asleep very difficult at times.

A full-scale attempt by all the detainees to disinfect these wooden planks to rid of bed bugs and follows by detergent washing these planks. They organized all of us to do this on one afternoon with limited success.

Because of sleeping close to one another, we had to restrain our body movement during sleeping. This is so as not to disturb the person sleeping beside you with their sleep.

There was no pillow provided for use. As for blanket, they provide a piece of pathetic cloth blanket to us.

inhumane condition cell mentioned in para 43 of affidavit (AIS)

Unhygienic sanitation and water tank contamination

There is four open-concept-with-no-privacy WC for about 130 people (during my detention time) and usually one of this is out-of-order.

Hand scoops are provided and used for the following. Pink scoops for showering, washing our clothes, scooping water to clean food tray. The blue ones are for scooping water for cleaning off after the “business”.

Occasionally, a detainee used the wrong water scoop and possibly bacteria contamination of the whole water tank. Immigration officer submitted an exhibit of an outside water filter, reckoning that the contamination is sand and sediments in her affidavit.

The water tank is one big common all-purpose water tank. It was used to hold water for shower, washing clothes, and cleaning the food trays after each meal. The detainees also used the water in cleaning up after completing their “business”.

My cell is on the lower floor and any detainees with walking disabilities were put here. Occasionally, an old man who cannot walks just release his “business” on the floor of the toilet.

Occasionally at other times, he releases his “business” at where he sleeps. Some detainees would help him clean up the smelly mess.

Open concept WC and water tank, courtesy of Malaysiakini

Detainees were provided food meant for refugees

Every day, the food served here is barely enough for sustenance.

Breakfast is two loaves of bread and tea-flavor drink for breakfast.

Lunch and dinner are rice with the nasi lemak ikan and a few pieces of cabbage. Once in a week, you get a small hard piece of horrible-tasting curry beef meat.

For tea break, they give two pieces of cracker biscuit and tasteless tea-flavor drink.

This is the maximum food intake the detention depot provided for detainees which leaves everyone malnourished.

Detainees were deprived of personal hygiene

I was wearing the same set of clothes for 14 days. These clothes were the same as what I wore on the night I was arrested and detained.

For those early days of my detention, I went without showers and brushing of teeth as well as change of fresh clothes for days.

Immigration officer had deposed in her court affidavit that personal hygiene items were issued to me, but I did not receive any such items. What was given to substantiate her claim was an exhibit of two goods-issued reports showing issuance of personal hygiene items to guards and signed off by the immigration guards. It was claimed that these personal hygiene items were issued to detainees. But the reports itself has discrepancy such as the signatures of the same immigration guard are different. Furthermore, there were no exhibits to show these items were issued to me and signed off by me.

On the 15th day, my missus brought me extra set, towels, soap, detergent, toothpaste and my medication. That was during her 2nd visitation on the 15th day of detention. During the 14 days before my wife brought the personal hygiene items, I have to depend on donation from other detainees taken from their own personal hygiene items.

Exhibit – Items issuance forms

In fact, some detainees had to buy personal hygiene items at exorbitant prices from the corrupt immigration guards through the checker. The checker is the person in charge of each cell and reports to immigration guards/officers.

Biggest group is Indonesian detainees

The make-up of detainees consisted of many Indonesian-national illegals in the cell during my detention. They are the biggest group, and they are cohesive as a group. Many of them do not have legitimate immigration documents and were smuggled into Malaysia by boats. Because of the cultural similarities, they blend in well with the Malaysian Malay. They are also known as being fierce fighters, especially those from the Bugis descent.

These Indonesians were detained for not having passport, having fake ID documents or without valid ID documents. Their detention is typically a year before they were deported. They were quietly territorial as well as being a tightly-knitted group of daring fighters.

As Indonesians detainees are one of the biggest group and other groups who are of the Muslim faith, the cell catered religious prayers for them. In the detention center, there is a set routine and the same timetable very day that is a part of their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

Daily routine and timetable for prayers

There is one prayer time very early in the morning at 6.30 am. The waking up is at 6.00 am for everyone and washing up till 6.30 am. Following after 6.30 am, the half of the cell at the back would be cleared of sleepers. They then rolled out the long prayer mats for their prayers.

Those who are not joining the religious prayer would move out of the way of these congregants. They would continue resting in the rest of the unoccupied areas. These detainees would keep silent throughout the prayer time as a mark of respect for these detainees’ beliefs.

There is one prayer time before noon, another one prayer time in late afternoon. Then there is one prayer time at close to the dinner time . Whenever there is the prayer time, the rest of the detainees activities are quieten down and whispering instead of talking loudly. The last prayer time being the one late at night before sleeping time at 11.00 pm.

Having found myself in such dire circumstances, I too spend lots of time to pray and fasted many days for divine help to see me through these evil days.

Daily routine of 3-hourly roll calls everyday

One of the guards’ duty and responsibility that is part of the daily routine throughout each day is the 3-hourly roll call event. This roll call is for reporting the number of detainees in every cell within the entire detention center to their central command. This is for them to account for every movement of detainees and their whereabouts throughout the day.

For the roll call, the center siren would go off and every detainee would scramble into position in rows of 10 detainees breadthwise, all the way lengthwise to the back of the cell. If you are halfway enjoying your shower or doing your bowel movement, you have to get out of your act and scramble to fill out the empty places. There will be no movement by anyone, and all heads must look down.

There was one particular roll call timing around dinner time. Depending on when the food delivery lorry arrives, this dinner event can be a bit of crazy. When the food arrives late, the timing to eat the dinner, wash up the food tray and clean the floor up is crazy. It is crazy because we have to be in position when the siren sounds for the roll call.

Checker’s role during roll call

The checker’s role is to report the number of detainees to the duty guard. He and his assistants (supporters) would threaten punishment on anyone not complying or not ready in position for the roll call.

In every cell, all the checkers will be waiting for the duty guard to visit the cell before ordering the whole cell to greet this guard loudly. The checker will report the number of detainees and the guard will count numbers by the rows as he inspects the detainees.

The usual time to complete a roll call is around 15 – 20 minutes for all the blocks to report their numbers to their central command. During any roll call, if an officer is not happy with the roll call, he will order punishment on the whole group.

Immigration officer instigates guard for an assault attempt

During a roll call on this night, the supervising immigration officer singled me out for having moved. The whole cell detainees were punished by this immigration officer to remain in the same position for additional 30 minutes with no movement.

This was the immigration officer who has been directly targeting me. It is to let everyone be aware that he has marked me so that no one would tries to help me. As he pretended to walk away to inspect other cells, he instigated the duty guard to teach me a painful lesson. This guard unlocks the metal gate, comes in and angrily accuses me of creating troubles.

Knowing that he was provoking me for a reaction from me that would justifies him to slap or beat me up, I answer in very soft tone, “Sir, please give chance” a few times. The bible teaches that a soft answer turns away wrath. So, with that, an unseen angel had helped me avert this evil.

And this was addressed in the high court judge’s written judgment, dated 21.2.2020.

Para 29 of judgment
Para 37 of judge written judgment – Faced harassment and threats by immigration officer.

Free time segments in-between

Outside of two particular notable routines of roll calls and Muslim prayer time in the daily timetable, the rest of the time is for the four meal breaks and our own activities (free time segment).

These free time segment will see some occasional incidents that will break the monotony of the daily routine. Such incidents usually start by fierce, aggressive arguments and fight challenges between individuals. A couple of such arguments leads to real open fights, gang fights and lastly, guards beating up a detainee within the cell and outside the cell.

In such an environment of many impulsive, unthinking and aggressive males, there are quite a few such fights and usually involves the alpha male types.

Incidents that were witnessed while detained inside detention cell block

In my Motion of Revision Permohonan Jenayah No WA-44-178-07/2019 case, these below-mentioned incidents were witnessed first-hand and so form part of my affidavit in support (AIS). Being put into the affidavit, at least it can be ventilated to the public.

Affidavit in support (AIS) para 46 – fighting inside cell.

The gang fight between Indonesians and Bangladeshis

The make-up of detainees in Pekan Nenas consisted of many undocumented Indonesian nationals during my detention. They were quietly territorial as well as being a tightly knitted group of brave fighters.

Apart from a big number of Indonesia national detainees, there is also a sizeable number of Bangladesh national migrant workers detainees. Within these two groups, there are a few who likes to street fight because they grew up in such environment. Both groups have individuals who are fierce, fighters background and outspoken but more on the side of the Indonesians. The Indonesia side often challenged and questioned the checker and his supporter’s certain decisions.

In this kind of cramped, crowded and hostile environment, people’s tempers tend to be short-fused and ignited easily. On top of that, supporters need to be loud mouthed. They also act mafia and behaved macho to be able to control the detainees.

Early second week of my 26 days detention, there was a big fight that broke out between a few Indonesia nationals against Bangladesh nationals as mentioned in my affidavit.

The reason why two different nationalities fight

One of the checker’s supporters is a Bangladesh national but there was no Indonesian-national. So, the Indonesian-national group was not happy that there were no Indonesia-national checker’s supporters.

Because supporters enjoyed certain privileges, some would vie to be the checker’s supporters. Apart from enjoying privileges, these supporters also give favors to their own nationality group. Hence there is resentment from unhappy campers when there is no supporter from certain nationality group.

One fine day, this resentment boils over to an argument over privileges enjoyed by Bangladeshi-national checker’s supporter. The total dissatisfaction by a couple of Indonesians with the Bangladeshi supporter breaks the monotone of the daily routine and fighting occurs.

The angry Indonesian and his friend started to attack the Bangladeshi. It then snowballed into many Bangladeshis entering the fight to help their Bangladeshi friend. Soon the fight expanded and involves many Indonesians fighting with as many Bangladeshi fighters.

The whole place soon turns into a mayhem with the fight raging as bystanders moved away to avoid the fighters. Fists and kicks were flying all over the place for a good while. These Indonesians are fierce fighters and many of them joined the fight. That leads to more of the Bangladeshi nationals to help their fighting friends.

Fighters were taught a lesson by immigration guards.

Soon, a squad of immigration guards were assembled outside and rushed in with their batons once the gate opened. And they started beating those involved in the fight before the fight broke up.

During such fighting involving many fighters, innocent bystanders could be beaten by mistake. Some could end up as witness to snitches and takes side.

As usually happened, the immigration guards were shouting, questioning the checker and the main persons who started the fight. The guards decided that their best course of action is to punish those involved. These are the ones who start the fight.

We witnessed the immigration guards beating up the detainees outside at their guard staging area. This is the guards’ visual “lesson” to teach detainees that they will not tolerate anyone creating any disorder inside the crammed cell. Even though the guards punished those fighting occurrences of fights were quite common in such tense and oppressive cell.

A folklore story from Pekan Nenas of a freedom fighter

This is one folklore story originating from Pekan Nenas to tell any audiences seeking to hear of heroic acts against vile and despicable immigration guards. All detainees had publicly witnessed the vile and despicable actions of these immigration guards in a senseless beating and torture of one Indonesian detainee.

It is said that under extraordinary circumstances will produce a man of the moment. Treacherous circumstances may make or break a man, but an exceptional man will never surrender under all circumstances.

This man that is the subject of this folklore story is a fierce freedom fighter of Indonesia nationality. Because of his loss of his God-given freedom, he appears a deeply agitated and mentally disturbed person.

Judging from what can be seen as described in later section, this man is deeply displease over his loss of freedom. And judging from his reactions and responses to the immigration guards throughout the story, he viewed these guards as weak cowards. He shows much contempt and despises those guards for their mockery and making a sport of him. Indeed, the guards had displayed egregious behavior by doing a perverse sexual act on him publicly to deserve his contempt.

A legendary freedom fighter

This is about one man who display what it will costs in a fight for his God-given freedom. He had to be able to resist against all odds, dangers and immense pain together with his indomitable spirit to stay the course.

Supposedly when you packed large number of foreigners of different nationalities and cultures together into small cell like caged animals, what would one expects would happen?

We will most likely see people who are distressed and disillusioned. In such cramped small cell space, there is no freedom of movement other than within the four walls. And imagine doing this for extended period of months and even years.

Then you also add in inhumane and cruel conditions, dirty and unhygienic environment into the mix. We would expect that this would makes these people feels very bitter, resentful with deeply suppressed anger, frustrations and loss of their normal sense of decency/human nature.

Adding to this mix, you put violent and egoistic guards armed with beating batons. You select guards who like threatening and violence and set these guards over them 24/7, guess what will you get?

You either get very docile people or you get a super resistance freedom fighter. And many Pekan Nenas detainees did indeed witness one from among them a super resistance legendary freedom fighter.

Backdrop setting

Detained within the four walls of our Pekan Nenas cell are hundred plus people of various nationalities, cultures and characters. Everyone detained together here were not by our own will but because some immigration officers alleged that we committed offences under immigration laws. A good example to underscores this point is the arrest and detention of a Nigerian national PhD student who had a valid student visa. While in immigration detention, he died an unnatural death under suspicious circumstances which no one was held accountable and responsible.

This anti-foreigner immigration law allowed for the detention of foreigner without a magistrate remand order (which has been proven in Malaysia high court). Even when a foreigner has a court discharge order, immigration officer will disregard the order and continues to detain you at their whims and fancies (which is also proven in Malaysia high court).

Every one of us detainees does not know each other background, what happened in each life, each family’s background and so forth. We were all total strangers to one another while being detained here together but everyone generally minds their own business.

Toxic, hostile and oppressive inhumane environment

In such a toxic and oppressive environment, fights and violence are common occurrences. This is because of the tight confined spaces, unsatisfactory living conditions, and loss of all freedom. The foods were tasteless with little nutrients and just enough for sustenance. We are of different nationalities and so there are tribal tendencies. Hence most congregate according to their nationality. And amongst us is much alpha-male type asserting themselves through fights.

Of the many fights and other violence witnessed within the cell, there is one particular fight of an individual that needs a special mention. This fight is the only fight that involved a lone fighter, albeit fighting for his liberty, life and freedom.

He basically stood tall in his fight for his lost freedom and against the sadistic acts of the Pekan Nenas immigration guards. His story is one of a man who is tough as a nail, extraordinary strong, unbelievably unbending and unyielding to the end. He earned the respect of all those detainees who witnessed the strength of his ideals and his indomitable will.

Loss of priceless freedom

Most of the days, detainees would look out to the open field and the world outside of the cell. The outside world as seen from the caged environment is a serene peaceful landscape with an idyllic lure. The wooded landscape with spatters of huts is familiar surroundings as the villages that they hailed from.

With so little activities, it is a blissful beautiful picture of how nice life would be out there instead of being locked inside this horrible cell.

They would yearn to be out there as they miss the freedom of seeing their loved ones. How they do wish that their hours are spend roaming the streets, savoring some good dishes or hanging out with friends. They could gather with friends in the restaurants for their food or in coffee shop to engage in idle talk.

It is a picture of a bird missing the freedom to be able to be flying everywhere in a vast space of the air freely and without a care.

In here we could only be sports for the immigration guards that hold powers over us. Occasionally the immigration runner aka kawasan would do the bidding of the immigration guards and caused troubles toward us.

Some of the days, the afternoon and evening could be so uneventful, boring and mundane that the immigration guards would conjure entertainment from those who are in their power. There is this one particular person that fits their bill.

How it started

There is this detainee that was locked in a separate isolation cell. He was of about five feet five inches of height and of average muscular build. He looks to be of very firm muscles and stout with a typical Indonesian construction worker.

Time passes very slowly in this kind of detention with little activities. In his isolation cell he was apparently very agitated, restless and craving for relief of some real serious unhappiness. So, to gets his relief, he would be calling for the immigration guard’s attention most of the times. Sometimes the immigration guards would force him to sing certain songs or do certain activities for their entertainment and sport. We had no idea for whatever reason that he was put in this separate isolation cell.

He hates his isolation

Throughout the day, he is always making loud noises, banging on the steel gate and all the loud noises can be heard up to the wee morning hour when we were all asleep. Our sleeps were disturbed by this entire din.

Sometimes he would be in seemingly good mood and will be singing to himself his Indonesian folklore songs. You can tell his good mood from his singing tune.

We have heard a few different folklore songs and these songs have melancholic tunes. The melancholic tunes would bring listeners to his inner world of how much he misses his home, village and community back in his country. Many were quite impressed with his singing talent and do enjoy the songs as entertainment.

These kinds of antics and rebelling for his freedom were happening on a daily basis for days. In addition, he would sometimes be throwing his food all over the place as a form of protest against any retaliation by anyone on him. In this cell he was given containers for his private business but instead of using this container he would mess it on the floor whereby kawasan would then be going inside his cell to clean up whatever mess.

Transfer out from isolation

After about a week or so, he was transferred to the same cell as ours. Obviously, many of us were apprehensive and worried about our safety with him in the midst of us. The Indonesians among us banded together around him to keep watch over him and prevent any incident breaking out.

Though he was calm generally, he could also be triggered easily into some violent behavior out of the blues. It appears that the loss of freedom for him has something to do with his uncontrollable behavior.

Truly as expected, just after one uneventful day of calm, things went out of control with his erratic behavior.

Prelude to violence on the Indonesian detainee

One day at around late morning, this freedom fighter started hitting someone out of the blue. Though the person moved away, he then started stomping on the wooden planks, metal grille and the metal gate with unbelievable strength. As his friends tried to calm him and restrain him as much as they can, he would even hit them with no hesitation. This is the same kind of erratic behavior that he was exhibiting as he usually does in the isolation room. We did wonder why the immigration guards put him in our cramped cell knowing his deep dissatisfaction about his detention with a propensity to create mayhem.

As he slips into his agitated trance-like state, he created more chaos with his wild antics and methods of protest. The whole cell became unsafe for all the detainees locked within.

After twenty to thirty minutes, the place became a chaotic scene and that brought a few of the immigration guards to enter the cell trying hard to bring the situation under control. Even when the guards were coming at him, he did not stop despite all the restraining by his friends. He was struggling and fighting like a fish out of the water to be in the water again for its life.

This provokes the guards to raise the alarm for more reinforcement guards to enter into the fracas. Some of the reinforcement guards started beating the guts out of this freedom fighter. They were raining fist blows to his head and beating batons to other body areas. These guards could have beaten him to death for all they care to show their power.

A violent assault on the Indonesian detainee

With the assistance of a squad of guards, these guards then moved him outside and continuing doing what they would be doing to subjugate his resistance and breaking down the will of this freedom fighter.

They tied his hands round a lighting post at the concrete staging area. This was in our direct line of sight about six meters away. They then assaulted him brutally while he was without the ability to defend or retaliate. However, he did not flinch nor beg for mercies. The guards used their fists, hard objects and whatever they had in their toolboxes to inflict torture.

There were more guards that came and join in or take turns to attack him for quite a while. The gang of guards was totally furious at his resistance holding up despite so much pain inflicted on him.

We were stunned that he was exceptionally strong, fearless with a super high threshold of withstanding pain or immune to pain.

All of these actions were going on under the hot afternoon sun. Different guards and officers came to join in and get into some actions on this freedom fighter who did not bow to the will of the immigration guards and officers.

To my logical mind, I could only speculate that he could either be “possessed by supernatural forces” or he had practiced some sort of dark art self-defense skill.

Sadist guards commit perverse sexual act on detainee

Just like a school of piranhas in a feeding frenzy, the guards turn to even more extreme measures of subjugation.

They removed his underpants and force him to masturbate in full sight of everyone under the hot sun.

Someone then used his phone camera to video record this perverse act. They were recording the most disgusting part of the sexual act, together with his face captured in full view shown in the video.

Why were they doing such disgusting and perverse acts? Are they planning to viral this video on YouTube? Is it for selling this video on the internet black market or is it for public shaming?

What were the guards trying to achieve with video recording of this gang-violation of this freedom fighter’s dignity?  Was the freedom fighter being unjustly detained that he resisted in such extreme manner and refusing to be subjugated? Were the families of these guards proud of their dad or brother’s action?

Others who lost their freedom without cause

If I were to choose an image to portray of what the Pekan Nenas Immigration Detention Depot officers look like, the image of this group of immigration officers and guards will be most appropriate.

They represent one of the worse of human nature for their perverse act upon this freedom fighter.

Detained within the Pekan Nenas Immigration Depot are people representing the nationalities of Malaysia neighboring countries? Indeed, the officers and guards who were involved in the gang-violation of this freedom fighter’s dignity are firstly, beasts and cowards.

They can be described as such through their behavior and actions that were put on full display before all the detainees witnessing it.

It must be added that not everyone locked behind the caged walls of Pekan Nenas are people who were there because they deserved to be in there. These could be people who had their freedom taken away because of some false charges or because of illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional detention.

These are innocent people who had to be subjected to all the uncivilized acts of barbaric guards such as what this freedom fighter were subjected to.

As for this Indonesian national detainee, whatever happened to him after what we had witnessed, we just do not know. May he be well and good?

Australian detainee is another folklore hero in Pekan Nenas Depot

Paragraph 46 of my affidavit (AIS) mentioned the fight between a solo Australian national detainee vs a group of Nepalese national detainees.

I remember my first entry into the cell was noticing an Ang Mo right at the front of the whole cell. The position where he is sitting is very obvious a special reserved place of privilege. It projects “top of the pack” image.

Whether it was assigned or self-imposed, I do not know. But judging from his aloofness and huge self-confidence, I would have guessed that he had determined to just set up his stuffs there and mark the place as his territory.

Subsequent event proves that he truly is “top of the pack”.

Well, he was the only detainee from a first world nation that was in the same cell as me till he was swopped out because of a fight.

Australian treat Pekan Nenas as his “resort”

This Australian national is the only detainee inside who treated Pekan Nenas as his “resort” while the rest from third world countries were being detained inside hellish detention center.

Why is it a “resort” for this Australian? This is because this Australian detainee’s life here is the only one accorded with “special privileges” and no immigration guard and officer dares to touch him.

He was the only national that all these immigration folks do not have the guts to touch him because he is from a strong first world country. Moreover, Australia is well known to stands up for her citizens on their human rights. Bravo for Australia and this Australian detainee proves it as the story shows.

I repeated again that he is the only person that none of the guards will come near him. The immigration guards are smart enough to stay away and let their senior three-pip Indian officer handled him. Almost all officers and guards are Malays, and this one Indian officer is the only one that came near him and converse in English with this Australian.

Personality conflict between the two Alphas

It started off with the Australian being unhappy with the checker. Immigration selected this checker to be the person in charge of the cell. In short, he holds power over all detainees inside. The checker’s duties include checking to report the roll call numbers of detainees to the duty immigration guard, organize the food distribution and duties of immigration runner aka kawasan outside of the cell.

This checker is a Nepalese and because there are many Nepalese inside, he has a group of supporters. Among his Nepalese supporters are troublemakers who are aggressive. Their aggressiveness comes out openly through the many instances of argument between groups or individuals. In a couple of instances, fights almost broke out involving one supporter who is very aggressive.

Well, we all knew that Nepalese are brave warriors through our history book. The Nepalese Gurkas are the most trustworthy and reliable fighting force in this world. But some doubt the identity of this checker is a true-blue Nepalese. Some speculated that he is an Indian that has stayed in Nepal for a long time.

The backdrop to this event

Because the Australian is an aloof and indomitable person, the immigration guards hated his guts. So naturally they stirred the detainees to dislike him strongly and so to irritate this Australian. Which is the reason that the checker and the one supporter (that likes to play hero) is always getting onto the nerves of this Australian.

This Nepalese checker with some power, always played macho and mafia-type behavior in front of everyone. He is always boasting that he can teach whoever “a lesson they would never forget”. It means that he will beat the hell out of that person on a one-on-one. This bragging is almost every time there is an unhappiness or challenge from the rest of the detainees. It is easy for him to play macho as immigration officer and guards are backing him. In any situation involving the checker, the immigration guards would intervene to beat the crap out of anyone involving in fight within the cell. There are a total of four fights that I witnessed inside this place.

Having heard so much of this checker boasting of his fighting skill, all the detainees are waiting for the moment when he would display his kung fu fighting skill. Everyone is waiting expectantly to judge his boasted so-called “beat-the-hell-out-of-you” fighting skill.

Australian detainee has his territory demarcated

This Australian gets to choose the best spot in the cell and that is the spot nearest to the front platform and the gate. He demarcated this spot to be his own territory within this cell. Here, within this territory, he will put all his belongings. And the person sleeping next to him must not sleep onto his demarcated territory. So, this is the Australian way of life, unlike all of us.

He not only gets to have his own territory, but makes sure that within this territory, and he can exercise all his rights. His rights involve being able to be fully naked after he comes out from his bath and wipes off the water etc.

There was one memorable incident involving a group of VIP visitors doing an inspection visit. These group of VIP includes some women, and they were walking around outside. It was memorable because he was fully naked and was exposing himself to the view of women visitors. He was not bothered by the voices of admonition to him to respect the decency of the women visitors. He just ignored the detainees and continued without putting on his clothes.

Tempted to test the Australian detainee’s territory

To him, this is not his problem as he is within his rights, within his territory within the cell to be fully naked as there is NO RULES against this. His unspoken message to everyone is that these visitors are out of place to come to a fully male place. Furthermore, these visitors are fully aware that they might see all the detainees inside. The female visitors knew that they could see what the detainees were doing as the inside is exposed to outside view.

In his mind, maybe these women would not mind what they see. We may not know if he thinks that way or not and if it is the natural Australian’s thinking.

Within the Australian’s “territory” he maintained and defends his ownership. No checker or his gang is going to dominate him. So, after the checker encountered a few of the incidents where he refused to heed the checker or the checker’s men, the checker and checker’s handler are waiting to see the moment the Australian would be humiliated in their heart of hearts.

Like a professional fight in the fighting ring

Well, the day finally came when the checker taunted the Australian so bad that the Australian challenged the checker to a one-on-one fight. The raised platform looks appealing as a fighting ring. Both agreed that no one will be allowed to intervene, and the checker promised not to gets the immigration and guards officers involved in their one-on-one fight. This is the big fight on the fighting ring of Pekan Nanas Immigration Center. On one side of the ring is “The checker” and on the other side of the ring is “The Australian”. It was too bad that there is no television crew to record or to broadcast this fight.

Immediately the Australian come at the checker and swing a fist, felling the checker and the fight began. As soon as it started, the other Nepalese joins in to gang up and sneak an attack on the Australian.

The action-packed moves were so fast that within seconds both were hitting at each other on the platform. And to the surprise of everyone, the Australian’s kung fu was on a different level from the checker. The checker was a mess of himself, all twisted up on the floor.

The checker had to be rescued from further damage by his Nepalese supporters. One of the checker supporters was like superman delivering a flying kick to the Australian. Another was doing damage to the Australian’s body. Others have to step in between the checker and this Australian but not getting into the fight directly to avoid being punished by the officers and guards.

The humiliation of the Nepalese checker

The checker was now such a sorry sight, after bragging all the time that he is a fighter who will beats the hell out of people. He was a total washout and such a disappointment from what he has been promoting himself as.

The fight went on for a while before the immigration guards intervened and rushed into the cell. Those detainees nearest to the fight could ends up being whacked by these guards.

One particular point to note is that immigration officer/guards did not take the checker to task. Similarly, the supporters who ganged up to attack the Australian were spared from being taken outside to be beaten up.

This is the usual punishments that immigration carried out from all previous fight accounts. The immigration backed up their checker and gives a light slap to his wrist only.

One immigration officer shouted for witness to step forward. This is hoping more would point fingers at the Australia national. One of the guards shouted to me: “Hey you Singaporean, what did you see?”

Obviously, this guard was setting a trap to get me involved to take sides. Taking either one side would make me an enemy of many then. I replied that I was sleeping, and I did not see anything.

No one involved in fight was punished by immigration guards.

The fight and the commotion freeze just like in matrix and everyone wonders what is next. Will the Australian national be taken outside to be whipped the daylight out of him for fighting?

If so, will we witness acts of brutality against this Australian? Guess what, they have to call the most senior three-pip immigration officer out of his late afternoon nap. They rushed him to deal with this Australian. Seems like a wise move to do this to avoid a diplomatic row with Australia huh.

They reckoned that if there is any diplomatic row, this senior officer is the best person to be held responsible instead of their own kind. It could also be due to most of the officers and guards cannot converse well in English. I must qualify that this is from my observation.

Australian, dares not touch. Do not want a diplomatic row. What good is yours eat-durians-friendship diplomacy with their convicted ex-PM? It only emboldens their immigration to bully Singaporeans, unlike Australians.

Only verbal warning and swopping out

As the Nepalese checker was involved (he was their man) they just ended up giving a warning to the Australian.

The senior Indian three-pip immigration officer came in to converse with the Australian. The Australian was advised that he could be reported to the local police and charged for committing an offence. Once that happened, it will lead to an extension of his detention period by few months. It means that it is not worth for the Australian national as he will be completing his sentence soon.

And the same night, they moved the Australian guy to the cell on the second level and moved a Japanese detainee down in exchange. This Japanese has a problem mainly because of the language and communication barrier. Very soon we find out that he is unpopular as he does not understand nor mixes well with most of the other detainees due to language handicap. This Japanese ended up being teased and bullied by other detainees. Even though he tried to fight back, he is outnumbered and ended up on the losing sides.

Death of an Indian national detainee while in detention

Affidavit in support (AIS) para 34 – death inside detention

An Indian national detainee was taken out from his cell to the staging area shed. This happened on one morning. The detainee is from a different cell and this staging area shed is directly in our line of sight. From our position we can see clearly as it is just outside after the grass patch. All the detainees witnessed this incident from our immigration detention cell.

We saw that he looks like an Indian and we then confirmed with friendly kawasans that he was indeed an Indian national.

This Indian detainee looks to be in a bad shape and seriously ill condition. He was vomiting and most likely also feeling nausea, giddy or breathing difficulty.

journal entries
Looking out and an open view of the staging area on the right of photo (hidden by lamp post)

About kawasan, detainee-cum-runner for immigration guards and officers

Kawasan is a term for detainee-cum-runner. Their role is to run errands for the immigration guards and officers. They enjoyed some privileges such as the freedom to be outside of the cell during certain times. They get a cut from deal through acting as intermediary between immigration guards or officers and the detainees.

Someone in the cell tried to offer me a deal for a 3-minute phone call @ RM100 per call using the handphone mobile provided by an immigration officer or guard. They also arranged deal like buying washing powder, soap, toothpaste etc. from the officers. Instead of issuing such hygiene items to detainees, they arranged to sell these items to the detainees instead through these kawasans.

They are also messengers for officers as well as passing on information to the detainees since they are also one of the detainees or vice versa.

The junior immigration officer ordered one kawasan to take a photograph of me and which this kawasan took my photo with the immigration officer’s mobile phone.

Immigration guards were occupied with their SOP duties

A couple of immigration guards were round about him probably to find out more from him on his sickness. They put him up lying on one of those table that are around with his back facing up. This helps provides him relief and intermittent respite while the guards observed him for quite a while.

As he was lying there, the immigration guards would occasionally check on him to sees whether he was getting better. They let him rest for a considerable time. However they observed that he was getting worse and needed medical attention.

But then the few immigration guards would not bother with him as they were busy with their regular duties. Their regular duties are escorting batches of detainees and maintaining orderly detainees’ movement. The immigration guards will also be busy doing shifts changing, handing and taking over of responsibilities. And they are also busy doing the roll call checking during the important roll call activation.

Experienced long waiting period for an available escorting immigration guard

I had experienced this kind of long waiting period myself as I seek treatment for a urinary tract viral infection problem on the morning of 1.4.2018. There was pain in the area of my bladder with a constant urge to go to the toilet to relieve. But there is very little urine to relieve.

Because of the pain and discomfort, I wanted them to send me to the doctor as soon as possible. Around that time the immigration guards were busy with batches of detainees and doing their records. They will be busy whenever there is detainees movements in or out from the cells while I fretted away in pain. The immigration guard would ignored me and ordered me to wait.

They would not bother about you because they are more concerned about their duties. These immigration guards were following all the procedures strictly and performing their duties per the immigration SOP. In my case, they make me wait few hours till there is a guard available from their limited number of immigration guards to escort me to the clinic.

Sent for medical treatment but never return back to cell

We witnessed this Indian detainee was struggling and suffering while the few guards were busy with their duties. They were waiting for arrangement for an available guard to escort him.

It was after a long time, in the late afternoon, that immigration guards finally send him to proper medical facility for medical treatment. By that time, his condition has gone from bad to worse. From our cell, we watched him. We knew that he was already in bad shape on his way out for medical attention.

The detainee never returned back to his cell. We enquired and heard from our friendly kawasans that he had died. The news we heard was that he had died from rat urine poisoning.

Circumstantial actions by few parties to address rat urine cause

What confirmed this news of rat urine poisoning is the fact that a senior Indian immigration officer was inspecting all the surrounding areas accompanied by his junior immigration officer the days after this incident. This immigration officer is the same officer harassing me throughout my detention.

They were identifying all the places with rubbish and unwanted junks. , identifying junk and unnecessary items lying around that needs to be cleared. There were housekeeping and cleaning throughout the whole detention center.

We also watched the junior immigration officer was very busy ordering the immigration runners aka kawasans with the clearing of rubbish, cleaning and washing up the surrounding areas. Following after for the next few days we saw groups of visitors coming around to inspect the places to check here, there and the whole surrounding areas.

These are all the circumstantial actions performed by few parties and because the detainee was never returned back to his cell, we knew for sure that he had died after being sent for medical treatment.

Collated information on this tragedy of untold grief

Being a witness of this tragedy, I can only do for this Indian detainee and his family is to report on what we, the detainees of our block had witnessed openly. This is hoping that somehow this information would help his family finds closure and seeks accountability. We can only hope that this information can finds its way to the family in India someday.

I had written to the Indian High Commissioner in KL to raise this to their attention. Though they provided me the information that I had requested, there is nothing more that can be done at this point as I am resource-constraint.

Tragedy of untold grief
Email to Indian High Com

Other witnesses to this tragedy of untold grief are three other Indian immigration detainees. They were detained together with me and are contactable. One of them had concurred with me via our WhatsApp messages. Though he would like to help and provides an affidavit as a witness but did not do so. He feared that bad things would happen to him if he got involved.

And today the international community is fixated and bringing international attention on the human rights of Uighur in Xinjiang, China. Why not on this sordid place in Malaysia?

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