PUTRAJAYA, Jan 11 — No higher authority ordered a ban against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to jailed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday, Prisons Department director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Omar asserted today.
Zulkifli said that contrary to Dr Mahathir’s allegation of interference, the decision to disallow the visit was made on his authority as the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman had not made a formal application prior to dropping by the facility.
“There has to be a special application, and we also need to see if the request is necessary.
“We also have to take the prison’s viewpoint, whether or not such visits could result in bad implications towards the prison,” he told reporters after the Home Ministry’s monthly assembly here.
“If we allowed them to meet it could have turned controversial, and we also had worries of safety and threats towards those there,” he added.
Zulkifli also said that not all applications will be approved as the department has to give careful consideration to each case.
“Under Section 26 of the Prisons Act, he is still under the discretion of the prison officer in charge, which means the approval would depend on the officer,” he said.
Zulkifli explained that while family members are allowed to visit convicts in the prison hospital, anyone else must be screened beforehand and subject to approval.
“There were visits made to Anwar by the Selangor and Penang chief ministers in the past where they had applied and were granted permission.
“Even lawyers of the detainee would only be allowed to meet them if there was a need concerning their case,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who was also present said he does not interfere when it comes to operational issues.
“I will let the director general explain, as I do not normally step in when concerning operations,” Zahid who is also home minister said.
Dr Mahathir had gone to the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital to visit Anwar yesterday, accompanied by the latter’s daughter and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.
He exited shortly after entering the hospital and told reporters that “high level” authorities in the Home Ministry had banned him from meeting the de facto PKR leader.