We refer to media reports on the rounding up of undocumented migrants conducted by the immigration authorities recently.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) strongly condemns the immigration department’s inhumane treatment of undocumented migrants during a recent raid conducted in Cyberjaya. We are shocked at the way fellow human beings were treated by the government department’s officers.
Who did the Immigration department consult before carrying out their “raids”? Surely the spraying of Dettol is not part of the SOPs from the National Security Council (NSC) or Ministry of Health (MOH).
We are in the middle of a pandemic. These raids will cause migrants to flee and hide from the authorities, and this will complicate efforts to curb Covid-19.
These are the types of incidents that have led to migrants not trusting the authorities. This trust deficit needs to be addressed.
The authorities’ usual practice of “raid and detain” must stop and better ways should be sought to tackle the problem of undocumented migrants. More raids will result in more detention centre clusters as we have repeatedly seen.
MMA urges the government to engage with the NGOs in reaching out to the undocumented migrants. The migrants need to be given the assurance that they will be helped and not harmed.
Undocumented migrants are one of the most important groups to vaccinate. If half of the Malaysians in the country have yet to register for the vaccine, imagine the enourmous challenge it will be to get the two to three million undocumented migrant workers vaccinated.
We may not achieve herd immunity if we fail in our efforts to vaccinate our significantly high migrant worker population.
To get migrant workers (documented and undocumented) to cooperate, the authorities need to first start treating them like human beings.
Prof Dr Subramaniam Muniandy is president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
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