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Malaysia Defends Prison System

February 21, 1999

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Malaysia defended its prisons and dismissed the findings of an international rights group that jail conditions were ``cruel, inhuman or degrading,″ news reports said Sunday.

Malaysia’s prison system has never been inhumane to inmates, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was quoted as saying.

``They are treated as such because they had committed various crimes, don’t expect them to receive accommodation and treatment similar to those provided by three-, four- or five-star hotels,″ Abdullah was quoted as saying by the national Bernama news agency late Saturday.

A report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union said prison conditions of jailed lawmaker Lim Guan Eng did not meet international standards.

Lim, deputy secretary general of the opposition Democratic Action Party, was convicted last year of sedition and printing false reports in a pamphlet that criticized the government. He has served six months of a 36-month jail term.

Lim was being held in a single cell with no window and just a ventilation hole in the ceiling, the association said. Because he had to sleep on a concrete floor, he suffers from a small fracture in his spine.

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