Inmates celebrating Raya vow to be responsible
by Mariah Doksil. Posted on August 18, 2012, Saturday
KOTA KINABALU: A Muslim man is responsible to look after the household, the needs of his parents, and siblings.
That is the first thing that Along, 32, will do after his release from Kota Kinabalu Central Prison next month after having been convicted of a charge under Section 457 of the Penal Code in September, 2009.
“I was a very bad person before. I never knew how to perform the Solat; I never cared about my family. I was addicted to drugs and I stole people’s money to buy drugs.
“After being here for three years, I know how to pray, I know how to plant vegetables and breed fish because the prison gives us many options to improve our living skills. When I am with my family later, I will explore these skills and pay everything back by doing something good for my family,” he said.
Along is the seventh child of 12 siblings, who is one of the prisoners celebrating Hari Raya for the third time in prison.
He said he never understood the meaning of Hari Raya as the festival that marked the end of one month of fasting because he had never fasted before.
“I only know Hari Raya as a celebration, nothing more. I regret everything I have done. I want to forget my past and learn from my mistake. I thank my family who has been very supportive and who visited me every month.
“I hope I can celebrate Hari Raya with them next year with my own money to buy food. It is not easy to explain the suffering, staying inside the sealed block, especially when you know you can be a better person out there,” he said to reporters at the fast breaking event at the prison.
He said every criminal could never escape punishment. It is how a person like him, could rise from the darkness and start a new life to be with family, or start a family.
A former civil servant, Rasdi, 41, never thought he would end up in prison. He left his wife and seven children without the love of a father because of a corruption charge.
He was jailed last year during the fasting month, and is scheduled to be released in May, 2014.
“I have no family here; my friends are my new family members. It is very tough to be separated from my wife and children, but deep inside my heart this punishment has taught me the meaning of being responsible to my family.
“There are many plans in my head when they release me. I want to start a business and spend my time with my family. I will be responsible to my children, aged 19 to five, and a wife who has been very positive in supporting me here,” he said.
The first Hari Raya in prison last year was very hard for him but after learning more about Islam, Rasdi can feel he is stronger inside, and he is confident to face the community.
“I want to fast with my family and find money for us to celebrate Hari Raya together. That is the main thing that I am thinking now. I must be responsible to my family after what I have done,” he added.
Meanwhile, 68-year-old Jeff from Sandakan said the only thing that he would miss this Hari Raya was her wife’s chicken soup.
“My wife will cook chicken curry for breaking of fast during Ramadhan, but I will never get bored with her chicken soup which she always cooked for our family during Hari Raya.
“I have five children, 14 grandchildren and one great grandchildren. I miss them all. I really miss celebrating Hari Raya with them,” said Jeff who was convicted under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.
The thing he learnt in prison is to be a better person, a good Muslim, and to be responsible to his family and his religion.
Jeff who was emotional during the interview, said he never skipped fasting, and he has now a better understanding on Islam because his ‘Ibadah’ is more focused in prison.
“I am ashamed for what I have done. This is not the best example for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren but looking at it the positive way, I learnt more about religion and I have something to tell when they release me. I know the real situation inside the prison where not everyone will want to spend their life here,” said Jeff who was a former teacher.