Thursday, March 08, 2007

Rise in crime? Blame the foreigners (Malaysiakini)

Rise in crime? Blame the foreigners
Mar 8, 07 3:58pm

An overwhelming majority of crimes in this country is committed by Malaysians. And yet, foreign workers are frequently blamed by the media, the public and lawmakers for the increase in crime.

Our prejudice against foreigners is not at all backed by facts and statistics, said the Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC).

According to police chief Musa Hassan, only two percent of the crimes committed in the country are by foreign workers.

But that didn’t stop Deputy Minister of Internal Security Fu Ah Kiow from claiming that 34 per cent - or 11.9000 - of the 35,000 prisoners in the country are foreigners, many of whom are held on remand.

“It must be pointed out that remand prisoners are those that have not been tried and convicted yet. It must also be pointed out that many foreign nationals, especially migrant workers do end up as remand prisoners as the majority cannot afford bail or fulfill the requirements of getting a Malaysian surety,” said MTUC president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud

“Out of a total of 2.6 million foreigners in Malaysia’s 10.5 million strong labour force, 11,900 is less than 0.5% only. There is thus no justification whatsoever to associate crime with foreigners.”

Meanwhile, the Labour Resource Centre (LRC) said that the foreign prisoners are largely migrants who were held for immigration offences, many of whom are victims of an unjust system which penalised them.

LRC’s K Shan expressed fears that the minister’s comment could enhance further the racial xenophobia and discrimination against certain migrant communities.

“The newly established Immigration Court at various detention camps is another fact that has contributed to a high number of migrants in prisons. The new court set up and fast track prosecution has only transferred the numbers of detainees from detention camps to the prisons.”

Gov’t losing fight

A number of human rights groups are expressing concerns that the government appeared to be at a loss in the fight against rising crime and sought to make foreigners the scapegoats.

Right group Aliran has slammed the government’s attempt to restricts the movement of foreign workers to prevent them from committing crimes.

“Why are foreign nationals being singled out for drastic measures when only two percent of criminal acts are committed by them?” asked Angeline Loh, who is Aliran’s executive committee member.

She said the proposed restriction on foreign workers reflected the government’s determination to “legalise discrimination, not only on the basis of race, but nationality as well”.

Malaysia’s campaign against the foreigners has now become an international issue.

Migrant Care, an Indonesian NGO, plans to bring up the issue at the United Nations Human Rights Council - in which Malaysia is a key member - when the body meets in Geneva on March 20.

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