We’re used to seeing the lives of prison inmates portrayed via international media, fictional or otherwise – but the harrowing situation is perhaps further emphasised when the aspect of proximity comes into the mix.
Earlier this month, Malaysian TikToker Syed Barkath Amin shared photo galleries on the platform which he claimed would capture what it’s like being imprisoned on local grounds. At the time of writing, Syed has published three separate slideshows.
The first post opens with a photo of the entrance of Kajang Prison, with the caption, “Before you commit a crime, take a look at what you’ll experience in here.”
The following slides include:
“This is the quarantine room, where you’ll have to sit for 7 days before being transferred to a different cell. You’ll be in here with 5 other people and it’ll be packed like a can of sardines. You’ll all urinate in one barrel and be tasked to carry it with your bare hands and empty it out every morning,” he wrote.
Next, he explains, “This is basically what your food will be like. You will always be hungry as the portions are small – enough to satiate you but not to keep you full.”
He also noted that physical arguments over food are common and “you could be killed over a biscuit.”
Netizens in the comments section who have visited the prisons also noted that the food containers are usually dirty.
Syed then shared the prison life of inmates with heavier convictions. Photos of men in white t-shirts with red collars and sleeves are shown with the caption, “Try to avoid this shirt, because it indicates that you have absolutely no chance at freedom again.
“Your only companions are obedience and regret. You’re isolated from other inmates and constantly under the warden’s supervision. You can only hope and pray for the Sultan’s pardon at this point to avoid the death sentence and spend the rest of your life at the final block,” he stated, adding a photo of the execution cell.
In the next post, Syed explains that as a new inmate, you may not be able to obtain your own mattress due to a shortage of them. If you’re lucky, you may get a blanket, but forget about the white noise like the TV or radio you might be used to at home.
Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of it all, Syed says that inmates lose their rights to meet with their loved ones. Through the glass or grilled partition that separates you from your visitor, physical touch and privacy are out of the question and you’ll only be allowed to converse for an hour at best.
“There is no freedom, you’ll live entirely in one block. You may not even get the opportunity to walk outside and take a look at the grass, and this is when you’ll come to value the precious moments you shared with your loved ones,” added Syed.
Next, he noted that when the inmates gather at a certain area for a particular activity or announcement, wardens must first ensure that each and every one is still present before returning to their respective cells. The conditions are crowded and uncomfortable, and must be faced by inmates on the daily.
Syed also asserts that being chastised for your actions is a necessity here.
You’re likely familiar with punishments incorporating the use of a whip or rattan. One of the photos depict just that, with a dummy helplessly strapped onto a ladder-like object made to hold the inmate still while he receives the punishment. Needless to say, the rattans are harsh enough to tear the skin.
Then comes the closed-off, dark room where inmates who misbehave will be kept in and fed only bread for 7 days. He notes that the room is small and humid, and by the third day, the inmate may start to feel suffocated.
In the final slideshow, Syed states that inmates are given uniforms of certain colours to represent the severity of their crimes or status in the cells. He says that if the inmate’s family does not bring them other clothes, one set is all they have and if the clothes are ruined or wet, they’ll probably have to go naked.
Next, he shares a photo of the toiletries provided by the prison, namely a kole, small toothbrush and two bars of soap – one for the body and one to wash clothes. These are given to inmates on a monthly basis, and if the family does not buy more in the case that the items run out or are broken, the inmate will have to simply go without and be susceptible to skin disorders.
Finally, Syed says that inmates will only be able to mourn the loss of loved ones from their cells, and may lose the chance to say goodbye to departed family members shall they pass away any time during the prison sentence.
In the event that the inmate themselves are sick, family members will not be allowed to accompany them to the hospital either, where they’ll be brought in and handcuffed to the beds, subject to the taunts and chatter of passersby and other patients.
“You’re a child, a friend, perhaps even a sibling or spouse. Before you commit a crime, ask yourself if you’ll be able to live like this, within four walls, shrouded with regret for what may be your entire life,” he added.
With thousands of shares on the clips collectively, netizens have expressed their awe towards the matter. Many who have witnessed the prison conditions themselves also backed up Syed’s claims, while others stated that the photos were enough to discourage them from committing crimes and facing the risk of imprisonment.
Most tragically, Malaysians with family members or friends currently serving their sentences in local prisons also left comments under the posts, expressing their disquiet whilst imagining what their loved one or relative may be going through behind bars.