Recently, the new Pakatan Harapan government announced that employers who have hired foreign workers illegally would be tracked down and charged for violating the law. They also made a decision to stop the rehiring programme in hopes of giving illegal workers a chance to get valid work permits.
However, this process has taken an abusive turn as authorities were reported to be mishandling the workers that were detained.
This was seen in a case reported on Facebook by an employer who described the way her helper was allegedly mistreated when the authorities conducted an immigration raid on Sunday (June 1).
Lynn Townley said that her Filipino helper had a copy of her passport and a picture of her visa with her when she was handcuffed and detained at the Kotaraya Shopping Complex in Kuala Lumpur, together with 300 other people.
“But instead of checking the documents, they loaded everyone into buses like animals and made them wait without water for five hours,” she said.
According to Townley, FMT reported that her helper was handcuffed to 10 other alleged illegal workers the whole time, and was even made to go to the bathroom together as a group. How is that even possible?
The workers were taken to the Malaysian Immigration Department in Putrajaya, where several of their employers were waiting. These employers had the original documents with them as proof that their workers were legal, and were desperately trying to talk to the officers. However, they were either ignored or yelled at instead.
“My helper has been working for me for 10 years, always legal and a kind and caring member of our TTDI community,” Townley said.
“She was released with bruises on her wrists from the handcuffs and marker on her arms from being tagged like a criminal. I understand the need to check documents and tighten down on illegal workers, but this process was absolutely unnecessary and cruel.”
Townley also posted several photos of her helper’s arms that were bruised by the handcuffs, and photos of the other detained individuals who were seated on the floor behind the yellow immigration department tape.
Her post soon went viral on social media, with many netizens slamming the authorities on the way the detainees were treated.
Charles Santiago, Klang MP said in a statement today (July 3) that the scene was “beyond disturbing”, and added that this abuse inflicted on them by the immigration officers was “outrageous and totally unacceptable”.
He then called on the department to make its standard operating procedures (SOPs) on immigration raids public.
“And if the SOPs cannot be made public, the raids must be stopped to prevent further abuse of migrant workers,” he said.
“Immigration officers should not treat migrant workers like animals, even if they are undocumented, for these workers are the victims of the existing system in the country.”
Santiago also suggested to Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to act on the matter, saying that something should be done about the over-supply of migrant workers at its source, the corruption in the ministry and the issuing of new permits.
He advised Muhyiddin to set up a special commission to look into the management of migrant workers in the country, adding that this was long overdue.
“The government simply cannot compromise on this and neither should it allow the rights and dignity of a group of vulnerable people to be trampled on,” he said.
This was very unprofessional of the police. Even if these workers were illegal, they’re still human and deserve to be treated nicely.
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