Media Statement by Johore DAP Policy Director and Senai Assemblyperson, Wong Shu Qi on 2 July 2014 (Wednesday):
Federal government should take the “Trafficking in Persons Report 2014” seriously to protect our international reputation.
Human trafficking is not a tiny problem that can be swept under the carpet anymore. Malaysian federal government must take the “Trafficking in Persons Report 2014” seriously to protect our international reputation.
More than a week after the report was published followed by a statement of denial issued by Wisma Putra, Malaysians have yet to see a more serious commitment by the federal government in combating human trafficking.
Moreover, a follow up report done by the Star has revealed that, only 9 traffickers were caught and convicted although there were 650 human trafficking victims identified last year.
The report released by the US State Department was not only the only one that attracted attention. UK newspaper “The Guardian” published also a series of reports that showed how critical modern-day slavery is in Malaysia.
In a news item dated June 27th, it was reported that “according to government data, 1,023 Nepalese died in Malaysia between mid-2006 and April 2014 – more than in any other Nepalese destination country. More than 10% of these deaths were classified as suicide. Eighty-three Nepalese died in Malaysia between 1 January and 13 April this year – an average of almost one a day.”
The statistic is frightening and paints Malaysia as a hell for migrant workers instead of a “Heaven on Earth” that we use to describe Malaysia.
Nevertheless, Malaysia’s image is now being tarnished because of human trafficking activities and forced labour.
This is however not very surprising to the people since we are so used to “utilizing” migrant workers as if they are not human beings like us. Their passports are confiscated by employers, no weekend holiday and bad living condition are no longer news for Malaysians.
Due to our industry policies that are labour intensive rather than R&D based, we are competing with other countries as an investment destination with lower wages. Employers, who are not helped by the government to move up value chain and mechanized, would only resort to fully utilize migrant workers like machines to increase productivity.
Meanwhile, half of the Malaysian women population are reluctant to join the workforce especially after marriage due to lower wages and lack of nursery care facility.
The BN-led government must address the matter in a broader sense to fully resolve the long overdue problem.
Wong Shu Qi