Thursday, March 01, 2007

Migrant CARE:- Malaysia Government Proposes Modern Day Slavery law

Migrant CARE Press Release

Malaysia Government Proposes Modern Day Slavery law

The motive of the new bill proposed by Malaysia Home Affair Minister to restrict the movement of migrant workers is questionable. The excuses of crimes committed by Indonesia Migrant workers have escalated by 2% should not be the valid reasons. The plan to table the bill at the Malaysia Parliament is grossly indecent discrimination against vulnerable migrant workers and a violation of international labor rules and codes.

We condemned Malaysia government’s plan to table the bill that allows the employers to confine the workers in the plywood and zinc makeshift quarters in the work sites liken the practices of the illegal human traffickers. The new bill will grant the employers the total control of the workers’ freedom including locking them up like the slaves.

Such a legislative action is prejudice against migrant workers that categorizes migrant workers as a security problem is an over reacted actions. Home Ministry should avoid the plan promote the Out sourcing companies business models that trades human being (Currently there are 213 man power outsourcing company recruited 31,493 workers) as human commodity at 150% to 200% mark up to their respective clients.

The proposed law is also against the teaching of Islam and Islam Hadhari principle promoted by Abdullah Administration as it is a transgression of boundaries and transgression upon a soul, its honor, its property or causing harm to another human (without rights). It will allowed the employers and outsourcing companies to unjustly take the property of another or harm and oppress them with violence, insult, other forms of aggression and taking advantage of another's weakness.

The current practice of the retaining of passports by agents and employers to control foreign workers movements, puts foreign workers in a very precarious situation where the threat of becoming an ‘undocumented’ or "illegal immigrant" are at the mercy of the unscrupulous employers/agents.

Migrant workers are not tourists or visitors. Migrant workers are here for work. Malaysia needs more effective enforcement of the Employment Act, the Industrial Relations Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Workmen’s Compensation Act and many others. Home Ministry’s effort to usurp the powers and jurisdiction of the Human Resource Ministry is an unnecessary additional blunder.

Home Ministry should to concentrate on its primary and fundamental duties in addressing the rising crime rate and the presence of the millions of undocumented workers in this country.

The controversial involvement of Rela has caused international embarrassment to Malaysia when Ops Tegas in 2004 had created many highlighted shame that Home Ministry had successfully deported 384,000 undocumented workers but failed to punish a single unscrupulous employers.

Home Ministry should also be more focus in tackling the corruptions within its own ministry rather than to create new laws. Home Ministry has not solved its internal problems such as:

  1. Issuance of the faked approval letters,
  2. Failure of its legal department to prosecute the employers who failed to pay the fines and compounds,
  3. Illegal collection of protection fees from undocumented workers,
  4. Inability to control the excessive marking up of levy fees (RM 1,200 to RM 3,000 per head) through Immigration brokers,
  5. Inability to control the Maid agencies from complying with the ceiling fees charges,
  6. Inability to discipline of RELA team whom has been given the military
  7. Ranks without earning their military merits.
  8. Failure to enforce the amended immigration acts 2002 fairly and transparently.
  9. Failure to prosecute the mastermind behind the human trafficking activities that involved more than 200,000 migrant workers

Passage of the law to be tabled could trigger many unnecessary diplomatic strains and the domestic political tension among the family of the migrant workers in Indonesia.

Migrant Care urges the Home Affairs Minister to stop tabling the bill which will carry multi dimensional damages to Malaysia- Indonesia relationship and its good standing image in the OIC and NAM. We calls on to the Malaysia Prime Minister to ignore the proposal in the cabinet meetings before it is brought another international controversial shames to Malaysia government and its people.

Jakarta, 1st March 2007

Wahyu Susilo Anis Hidayah Alex Ong

Policy Analyst Executive Director Country Director for Malaysia

Contact: Wahyu 08129307964, Anis 081578722874, Alex: 08176819892

Migrant CARE
Perhimpunan Indonesia untuk Buruh Migran Berdaulat
(Member of Migrant Forum in Asia and International NGO Platform on Migrant Workers' Convention)
Jl. Pulo Asem I C No 15 RT 015 RW 001 Jati, Jakarta Timur 13220 Indonesia
Telp/Fax: +62 21 4752803

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