Al Jazeera Documentary: Malaysia seeks info on Bangladeshi who spoke of migrants’ mistreatment | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 08, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:18 AM, July 08, 2020

Al Jazeera Documentary: Malaysia seeks info on Bangladeshi who spoke of migrants’ mistreatment

Malaysian Immigration Department yesterday circulated a notice seeking public information on a Bangladeshi migrant for investigation, after he spoke of mistreatment of migrants during Covid-19 lockdown in an Al Jazeera documentary aired last week.

Malaysian police also said they will summon reporters of news broadcaster for questioning over the documentary on the country's arrests of undocumented migrants, which authorities have accused of being an attempt to tarnish Malaysia's image.

In its notice, the Immigration Department provided the name of the 25-year-old man, his passport number and his last known address in Kuala Lumpur, urging for the public to contact the department with any information they could provide to assist in the investigations.

The Bangladeshi was among the migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia quoted by Al Jazeera in 101 East documentary aired last week. Since then, his personal details have been circulated by Malaysians online who are angry with the critical report carrying allegations of mistreatment of migrant workers in Malaysia, reports Malay Mail. 

On Monday, the company, which had previously contracted the Bangladeshi's services, disassociated itself with him, calling his views "biased" and pledging cooperation with authorities. It said the man never worked as its employee, adding that his statements were his own views and did not reflect the company's stand.

"Locked up in Malaysia's Lockdown", produced by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera, focused on the plight of thousands of undocumented migrants detained during raids carried out in areas under tight coronavirus lockdowns. It sparked backlash online while several officials decried the report as being inaccurate, misleading and unfair, reports Reuters.

The backlash comes amid concerns over crackdowns on press freedoms under Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's government, which came into power in March, as well as rising anger towards foreigners and refugees, who have been accused of spreading the coronavirus and burdening state resources, it reports.

Defence minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob this week called on Al Jazeera to apologise to Malaysians, and said allegations of racism and discrimination against undocumented migrants were untrue.

Authorities had previously defended the arrests as necessary to uphold the law and stem the spread of the pandemic.

On Monday, immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud warned that foreign nationals who make inaccurate statements aimed at "damaging Malaysia's image" will face possible revocation of their passes.

Khairul Dzaimee said the Al Jazeera documentary on immigration operations during the movement control order was inaccurate, pointing out that the Malaysian government had provided free treatment to 773 foreigners in immigration depots who tested positive for Covid-19 and had been praised by foreign embassies for doing so.

Malaysia is home to more than two million foreign workers and an estimated four million undocumented migrants. In total, there are about eight lakh Bangladeshis.

However, fraudulence, exploitation by employers as well as recruiting agents and brokers are some of the common problems the migrants face. Recruitment of Bangladeshis have been suspended since September 2018 after allegations that a syndicate of ten agencies connected to the then Malaysian politicians charged up to Tk 4 lakh for recruiting each worker between 2016 and 2018.

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