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Malaysian NGO to continue speaking out for migrants' rights

Publication Date : 22-05-2012


Malaysia's non-government organisation Tenaganita will continue to defend human rights and not be cowed by intimidation or harassment, its executive director Dr Irene Fernandez vowed.

Fernandez, who could be investigated under the Sedition Act over her recent statements, also slammed the “speediness” in investigating reports made against her compared to those on the abuse of migrant workers.

“It is pitiful that the police may be investigating me under the Sedition Act for speaking the truth about the abuse of rights and acts of violence experienced by migrants,” she said, adding that the police have not contacted her.

Fernandez has worked tirelessly to promote the rights of migrant workers and other marginalised people in Malaysia.

She noted that the police have not acted with “similar enthusiasm for swift justice” when over 15 reports were filed this year by Tenaganita on behalf of migrant workers and 10 by migrant workers themselves.

“It is highly regrettable that taxpayers' money is being spent on investigating the human rights defender instead of the human rights concerns raised.

“Tenaganita will not be deterred by any threats, nor will we be silenced from speaking the truth,” she said at a press conference in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Fernandez has been criticised by certain quarters over her interview with an Indonesian daily where she reportedly stated that Malaysia is not safe for migrant workers as it does not have a legal framework to protect them.

The police had reportedly said on Friday that she might be investigated under the law and were studying reports lodged against her.

Stressing on the importance of good governance, Fernandez said it included the readiness to accept feedback and criticism to plug loopholes in the system.

She also outlined a five-point road map in ensuring safe migration for all migrant workers to Malaysia, including appointing the Human Resources Ministry as the lead agency.

Selangor Anti-Human Trafficking Council's Abdul Aziz Ismail, who was also present, criticised the reports and actions against Fernandez.

“Why are they targeting her? Over 30 police reports on human trafficking syndicates have been lodged from the end of last year until now but we are still waiting for action to be taken,” he said.


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