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Declare war on human traffickers

  • Many foreigners sold to Malaysia have come in as migrant workers, thanks to loopholes in our labor law, making it an uphill task to wipe out human trafficking and labor extortion activities.

Sin Chew Daily

It has been reported that 47 Malaysians were recently lured by high-paying jobs in Cambodia but were detained by the local police upon arrival for alleged involvement in illegal online gambling activities.

These Malaysians have been released and have returned home safely following government-to-government negotiations and meddling.

As they have been suspected victims of human trafficking syndicate, the Malaysian police have initiated investigation under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.

Human trafficking activities could be voluntary or involuntary. Some fall into the trap of human traffickers in search of better job prospects overseas, and some have even been made sex slaves or are sexually abused.

They are not paid anything for their hard labor, and are denied of time to rest. This makes it even harder for them to attempt an escape, especially victims who are not well educated or are from impoverished families.

In a report published by Women's Aid Organization (WAO) in 2017, it was revealed that some rural women in Malaysia were sold to Singapore, Taiwan and even Europe for prostitution.

The report was targeting only victims who were women and children, but it is believed that cases like the one involving Malaysian in Cambodia are also not uncommon. Some have been promised well-paying jobs but end up being sold overseas by human traffickers.

It is important for Malaysians to remain highly alert and not to put themselves in danger because of the sweet promises made to them.

The government must work closely with NGOs to reinforce the social safety net in a bid to reduce family problems like domestic violence etc. This is to ensure the safety of women and minors, and prevent them from being manipulated by human traffickers.

On the other hand, there are also plenty of foreign women sold here for prostitution. According to reports, Malaysia is a major base for human traffickers who would resort to all kinds of means to entice their victims with high-paying jobs, tourist visas or marriages.

Among those sold here are people from less developed countries and those regularly exporting labor to Malaysia such as Bangladesh. Women from remote villages of China also fall prey to human trafficking activities.

Many foreigners sold to Malaysia have come in as migrant workers, thanks to loopholes in our labor law, making it an uphill task to wipe out human trafficking and labor extortion activities.

It is imperative that the government step up border controls and corruption-battling effort. Prior to this, the independent committee on foreign worker policy and management has decided to stop labor outsourcing program in a bid to check human trafficking activities. Unfortunately this good initiative has not been complemented with strict enforcement.

According to the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report 2018, Malaysia was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List, meaning we have been unable to meet the most fundamental requirements to stop human trafficking.

This will invariably deal a severe blow on investor confidence as well as the country's tourist industry.

As such, while drawing up a more comprehensive foreign labor policy, perhaps the authorities should also review the existing Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act to clear the country's bad name.

 

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