Two weeks ago, on 17th November 1982, I called a press conference to tell the ordeal of an inmate in the Kuala Kubu Baru Drug Rehabilitation Centre, Chow Yue Kum, 27, from Malacca, who absconded from the Centre to which he was committed by court for drug addiction, because he was in mortal fear for his life.
Chow escaped from the Kuala Baru Drug rehabilitation Centre, on November 15, not because he was afraid of the officials of the Centre, but because of his fear at the ‘reign of terror’ imposed by drug inmates who have formed ‘government within a government’.
What Chow had to tell about the ‘reign of terror’ by the underground ‘governments’ of the inmates is nothing new, although this was the first time that someone had publicly talked about it. In the Kuala Kubu Baru Drug Rehabilitation centre, the inmate are governed by three illegal governments, known as ‘UMNO’ for Malay inmates, ‘MCA’ for the Chinese inmates, and ‘MIC’ for the Indian inmates.
These three ‘illegal authorities’ imposed their will on the new inmates by coercion, physical violence and brutalities, and I understand, on occasions, leadings to deaths.
The New Straits Times, in one of its ‘Time Probe’ articles, on 23rd May 1981 wrote about the way these three self-styled government of ‘UMNO’, ‘MCA’ and ‘MIC’ terrorized other inmates into obedience and subservience. When I discussed Chow’s problem with the Ministry of Welfare Services, Datin Paduka Aishah Ghani, the Minister showed her knowledge about these three illegal governments of ‘UMNO’, ‘MCA’ and ‘MIC’ in KKB Drug Rehabilitation Centre.
These three underground governments have their own Eight Rukuns or laws, which inmates break on pain of varying degrees of punishment involving physical violence. One of the most important of these Eight Rukuns the underground governments imposed on the inmates was ‘Jangan Hantu’ – i.e. you cannot go to the office alone or talk to the officers alone; you cannot even go for medication alone.
New inmates are severely ragged on the first day of entry, to subdue their resistance, and a regimen of physical violence are administrated by the Seniors and Taikos on junior inmates who do not accept the authority of the illegal governments. The Seniors also demonstrate to the new inmates in front of Centre officials, that the Centre officials have no control or authority over the Senior’s actions.
Punishments covers a wide range, including the ‘starlight’ treatment – where various people take turns to punish the victim by hitting his forehead with a hard flick of the middle finger – and in Chow’s case, until his forehead was swollen up to half an inch.
The three illegal government’s also have their own court system, like the ‘High Court’, where the ‘accused’ is normally set upon by the seniors and Taikos of the three groups, ‘UMNO’, ‘MCA’ and ‘MIC’, and assaulted mercilessly.
It was because Chow overheard on the morning of November 15 that he would be sent to the ‘High Court’ of the three illegal governments that night that in fear of his life, he absconded from the Centre.
A week later, on 24th November 1982, I called a second press conference where another inmate, S.Rajah, 26, from Kuala Lumpur, narrated how he was physically assaulted for several days by the Seniors of the ‘MIC’ in the KKB Drug centre until he agreed to go on a ‘commando mission’ to go to Kuala Lumpur to get heroin, ganja and cigarettes for them.
Rajah, who was committed by court to the centre for six months, was kicked by ‘MIC’ Seniors on the day he entered Kuala Kubu Baru Drug Rehabilitation centre on 23rd August 1982, when he would not finish the rice piled up on his plate by the Seniors, and made to jump, shouting ‘Terima Kaseh Aishah Ghani’ and run around the field.
When he was shaved ‘bald’ the next day, he was asked by a ‘MIC’ Senior whether he had ‘money’ to pay for the shave, and when Rajah said he had no money, he was told that he had to take ‘licence’ to shave, and he was given the ‘starlight’ treatment 15 times by three ‘MIC’ Seniors.
On September 19, Rajah was told by a ‘MIC’ Senior to work in the kitchen, and when he said he would ask the Centre officer, he was told that there was no need as it was what the ‘MIC’ Seniors wanted him to do. In the kitchen, he was made to prepare special food for the Seniors, and to double up to serve the Seniors with extra tea, nescafe, etc, and he would be warned if he refused or had something else to do.
One night, one of the Senior took him to the Recreation Room where he saw a syringe and a tube of heroin, plus ganja and a bottle to smoke ganja with. The Seniors asked Rajah whether he would like to smoke heroin, and when Rajah said no, as he was at the centre to be rehabilitated, and not to become an addict, he was told that this was only once in a while, and Rajah took two ‘drags’ of ganja. Clearly, the Seniors wanted to ‘compromise’ Rajah. They forced him to smoke ganja a second time, before they told him on September 25 that he was required to go to Kuala Lumpur to get drugs for them.
When Rajah said he would be taking a risk, the ‘MIC’ Seniors told him that there would be no risk as they would cover up for him until he came back from Kuala Lumpur. He was attacked by these Seniors the night he was approached and refused, the Seniors taking turns to punch him on the chest, and another Senior took a stick and beat him on his feet, which is still swollen and painful today after two months!
REIGN OF TERROR
For the next few days, the ‘MIC’ Seniors deliberately found fault with him and kept on beating him by punching him on the chest every two or three hours. He was told that he would be a ‘free man in the Centre’ if he agreed to go to Kuala Lumpur to get drugs for them. The beatings continued until October 1, when the ‘MIC’ Seniors gave him an ultimatum that if he refused, they would ‘bang and bash’ him up the next day, and throw him outside the fence, and then report to the Centre officials that he had escaped and have him charged in Court for running away from the Centre. After some more beatings, S. Rajah could not stand it any longer and agreed. The next day, at about 4.30 p.m., an ‘MIC’ senior accompanied him in the escape out of the Centre by crawling from the back fence, and took him through estate road for about 1½ miles to wait for a bus, where he was sent onwards to Kuala Lumpur. S. Rajah returned home instead, and after discussing with his mother, decided not to return to the Centre.
These are eye-witnesses accounts of the ‘reign of terror’ in the KKB Drug Rehabilitation centre, of the complete breakdown of law and authority in the Centre.
We send drug addicts to the KKB Drug Rehabilitation centre to be cured of their addiction, so that they could lead useful lives, instead of subjecting them to a ‘reign of terror’ perpetrated by the illegal ‘UMNO’, ‘MCA’ and ‘MIC’ gangsters in the Centre to the trained into hardened criminals. Those who do not want to submit to the ‘reign of terror’ of the illegal governments in the centre had to abscond, I understand there is a large number of abscondment of inmates from the KKB Drug Rehabilitation centre, not from legal authority, but from the illegal authority!
How many inmates had tried to abscond, and how many had actually absconded, from the KKB Drug Rehabilitation centre since its first day? Are the Centre and Ministry officials aware that these inmates absconded not from the Centre’s authorities, but from the illegal authorities who seem to have overpowered the Centre officials?
We are not interested anymore in wishy-washy statements or replies from the Ministry that the Ministry or Centre would inquire into the complaints, for the Ministry and the Centre have shown that they are incapable of dealing with the grave problem of the KKB Drug Rehabilitation Centre becoming a nest of ‘illegal’ underground gangs.
Drug addiction is a major problem in Malaysia, which can sap the moral fibre and sense of purpose of Malaysia, and can lead to the ruination of our nation. We must approach the problem of drug addiction with greater sense of seriousness and sense of purpose than is being shown by the Ministry of Welfare.
Clearly, before the officials at the KKB Drug Rehabilitation Centre could rehabilitate the drug addicts, the Centre officials must be rehabilitated first to possess the right attitudes and commitment to rehabilitate the drug addicts.
The problem of the KKB Drug Rehabilitation Centre, and that of other Centres in Tampo, Bukit Mertajam and Kuala Besut, have become too big for the Ministry of Welfare Service to handle. I suggest that that the Ministry agree to the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate and make commendations on the drug rehabilitation in the country, as well as thoroughly expose the underground rule of the self-styles ‘UMNO’, ‘MCA’ and ‘MIC’ governments in the KKB Drug Rehabilitation centre. The Parliamentary Select committee should also consider whether and how Drug Centre officials should be rehabilitated first before they could set out to rehabilitate drug addicts. This is a grave social problem which must be treated seriously as the former Home Affairs Minister, Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie, had said that the Drug Problem has overtaken the problem of communism as the No. 1 Problem. Then let us give the drug problem a priority attention and treatment, and we in the DAP are prepared to render all possible assistance to ensure that the youths of Malaysia are not destroyed, and our country with it, by drugs.
(Speech by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang in Dewan Rakyat on the estimates for the Ministry of welfare on November 30, 1982)