By Koi Kye Lee
PUTRAJAYA – The Immigration Department has completed a report that will clarify the issues raised by the United States State Department in relation to human trafficking in the country.
In the US’ Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), Malaysia was in tier two last year compared with tier three in 2009.
The TIP report lists countries in the world based on their minimum standard of compliance in the fight against human trafficking. The evaluation is carried out by the State Department annually.
Director-general of Immigration Datuk Alias Ahmad said among the issues that were raised in the report was the excess intake of foreign workers that subsequently led to forced labour in Malaysia.
Denying this, he said that in general, the country still needed about three to four million workers, especially in the plantation and construction sectors as locals refused to fill the vacancies.
“Actually, the issue arose due to management problems, and not on excessive permit the employers to do so.
“Sometimes, the employees, of their own free will, hand their passports over to the employers for safekeeping.” Another issue raised by the report was that the People’s Volunteer Force (Rela) was cracking down on illegal immigrants through their own operations.
Alias said Rela was no longer allowed to carry out any operations unless they were asked to help by the authorities.
It was learnt that the issue was raised after reports were received that Rela members were acting outside of their jurisdiction, aside from being harsh with the immigrants.
On the issue of human trafficking cases that were not investigated thoroughly and effectively, Alias said: “Judging from the number of arrests and cases recorded, the issue does exist in Malaysia.
“However, this is because it is hard for us to gather evidence when the victims are unwilling to become witnesses.
“When caught, they say they were forced, when actually they came willingly. But when you ask them to become witnesses, they refuse to do so. Hence, it is hard for us to obtain evidence and it is not due to ineffective investigations.”