The Malaysian Immigration Department has revoked the work permit of a Bangladeshi youth who spoke to Al Jazeera for a documentary on alleged mistreatment of migrants in the country, said Malaysia's Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador.
The 25-year-old Bangladeshi man was among migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia quoted by Al Jazeera in a 101 East documentary titled "Locked up in Malaysia's Lockdown", which 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.
The Immigration Department had informed police of the man's permit revocation, and the latter's status is now that of an undocumented migrant who will be deported home, the IGP said, according to the Malay Mail report.
He needs to surrender himself before being deported back to his home country, the IGP also said.
IGP Abdul Hamid said the Bangladeshi man has, however, disappeared, reports The Star.
"Please come forward. I also want to know what you meant by migrants are being treated like animals. I assure your safety," he said.
Earlier in a 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.
On the investigation over a documentary produced by Al Jazeera, Abdul Hamid said the news station would be given the chance to defend themselves should they be charged.
"As of now six have been called for their statement to be recorded and a seventh, the video uploader, will come soon," IGP Abdul Hamid said, assuring the Al Jazeera team of their safety and called for calm from the public.
"They are coming in as witnesses, not suspects," the IGP said, adding that the attorney-general's office would decide on any further action, Reuters reported.
The six had turned up at the Federal Police headquarters on July 10 for quizzing. They left at around 3:00pm after arriving at 9:00am.
Their lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik said his clients would cooperate fully with the police investigation.
"The documentary as depicted was balanced and fair. It catered views from different sides," Hisyam said.
"In fact, attempts were made to seek the government's response but these did not come," the lawyer also said.
"Despite that, footage was used from government releases and put in the documentary," he added.
Qatar-based Al Jazeera, meanwhile, said it stood by the professionalism, quality and impartiality of its journalism, Reuters reported.
Rights groups have raised concerns over crackdowns on media freedom under Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's government, which came to power in March, as well as rising anger toward foreigners, who have been accused of spreading the novel coronavirus and being a burden on state resources.
Al Jazeera also called on Malaysia to withdraw the criminal investigation.
"Charging journalists for doing their jobs is not the action of a democracy that values free speech. Journalism is not a crime," it said in a statement.
The Malaysian Prime Minister's Office did not respond to a request for comment.
The documentary, "Locked up in Malaysia's Lockdown", focused on the plight of undocumented migrants detained during coronavirus lockdowns.
Al Jazeera said it had repeatedly sought the government's view but requests for interviews with ministers and officials were not accepted.
Despite this, it said it had produced a balanced film by including comments made by the defence minister at two news conferences.
Al Jazeera said its staff and those interviewed in the documentary had faced abuse, death threats and disclosure of their personal details on social media.