Lawyers group: Yanking Bangladeshi man’s work pass only bolsters claim of migrant mistreatment

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Zaid Malek speaks to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 3, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Zaid Malek speaks to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court December 3, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) slammed the Immigration Department’s decision to revoke the work permit of a Bangladeshi man for speaking up in a recent documentary, pointing out such a move only served to strengthen allegations of migrant mistreatment in the country.

The group, through its coordinator Zaid Malek, said it was gravely concerned with the decision to revoke the man’s permit, pointing at the alarming extent local authorities are willing to go to in order to locate the foreigner.

Zaid, in his statement today, alleged that the revocation of the Bangladeshi’s permit was a “blatant abuse of power and flouting of the law” by the Immigration Department, pointing out that Section 9(1)(c ) of the Immigration Act only allows the cancellation of permits on the basis it is prejudicial to public order, public security, public health, or morality in Malaysian.

“It is inconceivable that the mere action of highlighting his plight to the media would fall under any of the categories listed under section 9(1)(c).

“It seems as if the Immigration Department is trying to legitimise the witch hunt on this man for daring to speak out against it.

“This act only serves to strengthen the allegation that migrants are being unfairly treated and targeted by the authorities,” Zaid wrote in a statement today.

LFL then urged that the manhunt for the Bangladeshi be stopped immediately, before the public sees such moves being legitimised by authorities as a free-pass to initiate a witch-hunt against the foreigner.

“We demand the authorities to immediately halt its unjustified and unlawful pursuit of this man and strongly urge the government to immediately step in and stop this clear abuse of power by the authorities” he added.

This comes on the heels of Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador’s revelation that the 25-year-old man’s work permit had been revoked by the Immigration Department on Sunday.

The cancellation of his work permit, Abdul Hamid said, saw him become an undocumented migrant and who will now face deportation.

The man in question had appeared on the Doha-based news agency, Al-Jazeera’s Locked Up In Malaysia’s Lockdown that was aired on June 3.

As part of the agency’s 101 East segment, the production had highlighted criticism by human rights groups who accused the immigration authorities of serious violations when raids were conducted in red zones.

Ministers, the Immigration Department, and the police had all reacted to the documentary, with Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob demanding an apology from the news agency.

The programme has since led to a sedition and defamation investigation by Malaysian police on the Qatar-based news channel.

Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud has warned foreigners that making negative statements about Malaysia could result in their passes being revoked, a day before his department released the Bangladeshi’s personal details as it sought the public’s assistance in locating him.

The authorities’ move to go public with the Bangladeshi’s personal details also sparked a fresh round of xenophobic and anti-migrant sentiment on the department’s Facebook page, and was widely criticised by civil society organisations.

Malay Mail also reported lawyers saying while the threat by the Immigration Department was legal, it was also ‘extreme'.

On July 10, at least six Al Jazeera staff were summoned to Bukit Aman to facilitate investigations accompanied by their lawyers.

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