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The most “famous” inmate at the Kamunting Detention Centre at the moment is Mas Selamat Kastari from the militant Jemaah Islamiah (JI) group’s Singapore chapter.
He had planned to bomb Changi airport and carry out other attacks on the city but was captured by the Singaporean authorities. In February last year, he thoroughly embarrassed them when he made a spectacular escape from a high security prison by climbing out through a toilet window and swimming across the Johor Straits.
He remained in hiding in Johor for more than a year before he was finally caught on April 1 by Malaysian authorities and sent to the Kamunting Detention Centre, where he has been incarcerated since June, after the 60-day interrogation period.
So far, it has not been made clear why he has not been sent back to Singapore. “We would also like to know why,” mutters a prison official in response to a question from a journalist during a media visit to Kamunting last month.
At the same press briefing, Prison deputy commissioner (Security) Thang Ah Yong says special measures are in place for Mas Selamat to prevent a repeat of the Singapore escape. (He also says no prisoner has ever escaped from Kamunting.)
“We have put him in a special area where his activities are constantly monitored, including a daily chronology of his movements. We also have hourly reports on him,” Thang says, adding that there are other measures taken “but we can’t disclose them”.
However, these do not include leg irons or handcuffs, assures camp commandant Ramli Osman.
Neither is Mas Selamat in solitary confinement, it seems – he is even allowed to borrow books from the library. In the three months that he has been at Kamunting, he has not had any visits from his family.