Tenaganita chief Irene Fernandez lambasts police for wasting taxpayers money investigating her for comments in the Jakarta Post.
The speed in which the police responded to reports lodged against her by several groups on Thursday has Fernandez perplexed. The police said she may probed for sedition on Friday.
Fernandez said it seemed that the police are deflecting attention from the real issue of abuse of migrant workers rights by going for her.
“We have made 15 police reports thus far this year. An additional 10 reports were made by the migrants themselves but the police are slow to act on these reports.
“Why are they wasting their time investigating me when they should be out there investigating these cases. This is a waste of taxpayer’s money,” said Fernandez.
She said that in the past five months, the reports made involved employers or agents holding back migrant’s passports and reports of abuse and violence.
“Thirty-five percent of 43 cases registered with us revealed that the maids were denied proper food and 36% of the same number of cases showed alleged sexual assaults.
“These are serious cases which needed to be investigated in order for justice to be served,” she said, adding that there were more reports of abuse not recorded by Tenaganita.
The Sedition Act, she said, was an archaic law which has been used in the past to intimidate people. “Why is the government targeting whistleblowers?” asked the veteran activist.
Investigating officers unknown
Abdul Aziz Ismail of the Anti Human Trafficking Council Selangor, said that he was puzzled as to why Fernandez was targeted by the authorities.
“We have lodged 30 police reports on matters relating to human trafficking but no action has been taken.
“When I approached Bukit Aman to get an update, the Investigating Officers (IO) in some of these cases were not known,” he said.
He added that he had approached the MACC on alleged corruption involving officials from government departments pertaining to human trafficking, but these reports were ignored.
The MACC is also investigating Fernandez over the interview in the Indonesian daily.
It is investigating her for saying that several Malaysia employers have resorted to “paying the police” or “buying court verdicts” to ensure no action is taken against them.
Fernandez, however, clarified that she was misquoted and that the Jakarta Post has agreed to publish corrections.
She said that it was shameful for Malaysia to sit on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) without a proper framework to deal with discrimination faced by migrant workers.
“You have a seat in UNHRC and you silence human rights defenders. That is what is contradictory with the government of the day,” she said.
To Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s reported comment that she was immoral in criticising government policies, Fernandez said that the government should learn to value constructive criticisms.