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LETTER

LETTER | Getting to the root of migrant repression

Ronald Benjamin

Published

LETTER | One of the most vital criteria of good governance is to seek the truth objectively without the baggage of ideology or personal views. Truth cannot emerge from partial information. The whole spectrum of information is vital to address a particular institutionalised behaviour and action.

It is sad that in Malaysia the quest for justice is limited or coloured by ethnic rhetoric, or by the poor ability to perceive the reality or truth broadly and accurately, especially among the ethnoreligious mainstream political parties and some ethnocentric leaders in so-called multi-ethnic parties.

Furthermore, how a country treats its most vulnerable population says a lot about its moral principles of governance.

The latest news that 156 undocumented migrants were detained by immigration authorities at an illegal settlement in Cyberjaya and sprayed with disinfectant speaks volumes of Perikatan Nasional's governing principles.

Undocumented migrant workers are human beings with dignity and families. Treating them in this manner reveals a serious ethical issue facing our enforcement agencies.

Good governance would get to the root of why there are undocumented workers in the country. What was the process that brought these workers into this country? Was there a powerful hidden hand in the Home Ministry that approved these workers? 

What about employers who were responsible for bringing in these migrant workers to this country? How did they end up undocumented? Have the Home Ministry officials, employers and corporations been made accountable for their actions? Have there been any landmark court cases and judgements on these issues?

While the Covid-19 vaccination process could be the reason for rounding up undocumented foreign migrant workers, the fact is that they are being treated in an inhuman manner and this should be a wake-up call for Malaysians to demand the real truth behind the million of undocumented foreign workers in the country.

For a start, I would urge the Perikatan National government to make public the inquiry and report by the Independent Committee on the Management of Foreign Workers (JKBPPA) initiated during the time of former human resources minister M Kulasegaran.

These would to a certain extent help get to the bottom of the corruption and abuse of power that has dented Malaysia’s governing integrity and human rights.

The rounding up of illegal immigrants and using a disinfectant spray on them is a symptom of a grand moral failure in governance that requires getting to the root of migrant repression.


The writer is secretary, Association for Community and Dialogue.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.