Pudu Prison

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Pudu Prison
An overhead view of the Pudu Prison complex, as seen from the Berjaya Times Square.
Location Jalan Hang Tuah
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Status Demolished
Security class Medium-security
Opened 1895
Closed 1996
(Malaysian Prison Department)

2008
(Royal Malaysian Police)
Managed by Malaysian Prison Department
(1895 - 1996)

Royal Malaysian Police
(2003 - 2008)

The Pudu Prison was a prison in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Built in phases by the British colonial government between 1891 and 1895, it stood on Jalan Shaw (now Jalan Hang Tuah).[1] The construction began with its 394-metre prison wall at a cost of Straits $16,000, and had been adorned with the world's longest mural at one point in its history.[2] The cells were small and dark, each equipped with a window only the size of a shoebox. As of December 2012, the prison complex was largely demolished, leaving only the main gate and a portion of the exterior wall still standing.

Early years[edit]

Pudu Prison, also known as Pudu Jail, was built on the site of a former Chinese burial ground. At the time, Pudu was a dense jungle area, with tigers occasionally roaming around. Construction began in 1891, using convicts as workforce. It took about four years and was finally complete in 1895. The first governor of Pudu Prison was Lt. Col. J.A.B. Ellen.

A few months after its completion, in August 1895, a cholera plague struck the prison and killed a few hundred inmates. Later, it was found that the plague was caused by the prison's water supply system, which relied on an old well belonging to the Chinese cemetery previously on the site. An inspection by the British colonial authorities revealed that the water in the well was severely contaminated by deadly viruses. The water problem was not fixed until 1898.

In 1911, Richard Alfred Ernest Clark, a former soldier of the third battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, was one of the European warders in the history of Pudu Prison.[3]

Early in its history, Pudu Prison was the only prison in the state of Selangor and used to imprison men and women with short sentences. The prison was also self-sufficient as it had a vegetable garden that could produce enough food for its inmates annually.[4] The prison later housed criminals including drug offenders and was a location for administering corporal punishment by rotan caning. The canings were administered in a special "caning area", so marked, which was not inside the main building but on the prison grounds.

Mural[edit]

In 1984, an inmate named Khong Yen Chong used some 2,000 litres of paint to create an impressive mural of tropical scenes. It measured some 860 feet by 14 feet and was mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest mural in the world. Khong, as an inmate, was not able to complete the mural. He returned later as a free man and volunteered his time to complete his masterpiece.

History after 1940[edit]

Overgrown west wall of Pudu Prison in February 2011.
The area as of June 2013, with the entrance gate and a water fountain remaining.

During World War II, the Japanese occupation forces incarcerated many Allied POWs there.[1]

In 1986, the Pudu Prison siege took place. In this incident, a group of prisoners seized and held two members of the prison staff as hostages over a period of six days. The siege was resolved when Malaysian police stormed the prison. They successfully rescued the hostages and subdued the prisoners without loss of life.

In 1996, after 101 years as a prison, Pudu Prison was formally closed and the inmates were moved to Sungai Buloh and Kajang prisons. It continued to be used until 2009 as a day-holding facility for prisoners attending court hearings. It was used as a museum for a period in 1997. Additionally, eight supporters of the Hindu Rights Action Force were arrested and incarcerated in Pudu Prison following the 2007 HINDRAF rally. They were later released due to lack of evidence.

In June 2009, the government finally decided to demolish the complex by developing it in phases. When the MP for Bukit Bintang, Fong Kui Lun (DAP) asked why the building was not being retained as part of Malaysia's heritage, Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Hussain (UMNO-BN) replied: "To our opinion, it's not something to be proud of."[2]

In June 2010, the eastern wall of the Pudu Prison complex was demolished to make way for a road-widening project.[1] By December 2012, all buildings within the Pudu Prison complex were completely demolished, with only a part of the exterior wall and main gate still standing.

The former prison site can at present be viewed by the public only from the outside. A clear view of the site can be obtained from the monorail train between Imbi and Hang Tuah stations. The site is now undergoing a US$1 billion redevelopment plan by the Urban Development Authority of Malaysia that involves an integrated commercial and transportation hub.[5]

Famous inmates[edit]

Botak Chin, an infamous gangster who was allegedly betrayed by his own men, was executed here on 11 June 1981 for the possession of firearms.

In 1986 Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers, both Australian nationals, were executed in Pudu Prison for trafficking heroin.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Prison break: Pudu's walls come down". The Straits Times (Singapore). 22 June 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Choi, Clara (21 June 2010). "No heritage site for Pudu Jail, development will commence 21 June 2010". The Malaysian Insider. 
  3. ^ "Social and personal". The Straits Times (Singapore). 16 June 1911. p. 6. 
  4. ^ "Selangor Administration". The Straits Times (Singapore). 1 July 1927. p. 2. 
  5. ^ http://www.thesundaily.my/news/553357

External links[edit]

Media related to Pudu Prison at Wikimedia Commons Coordinates: 3°08′27″N 101°42′30″E / 3.140773°N 101.708443°E / 3.140773; 101.708443