PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has voiced out his frustration over how certain countries were placed higher than Malaysia in a global ranking despite being the source country of human trafficking.
“We are serious in trying to stop human trafficking. But the international community must make sure the source country is not given a better tier. That is unfair.
“The efforts taken by enforcement agencies, especially the police and Immigration Department, must be seen as proactive measures,” he said at the launch of the 2016-2020 second phase of national action plan to combat human trafficking.
He said Malaysia was committed and worked closely with the international community so that human trafficking did not take place.
But he said the goalposts were changed and shifted, which was unfair. This resulted in many countries that were the cause of human trafficking having a better ranking than Malaysia.
Zahid, however, did not name the countries that were given a higher ranking than Malaysia.
Malaysia, for the second consecutive year, remains on the United States Government’s Tier 2 “Watch List” on human trafficking, although two other Asean countries were upgraded in the ranking.
Countries in the Tier 2 watch list are considered nations that “do not fully meet the minimum standard in eliminating human trafficking”.
Malaysia shares its rank with Thailand and Laos.
The Philippines was upgraded to Tier 1 after spending five years in Tier 2, while Thailand moved out of the blacklist to Tier 2.
Malaysia was elevated from Tier 3 to Tier 2 in the Trafficking in Persons Report in 2015.
Zahid said this second phase of the national action plan to combat human trafficking would ensure Malaysia does not remain at Tier 2.
Malaysia will take efforts to move towards Tier 1 “where no human trafficking takes place”.
He noted that there were still international syndicates that were still trafficking people to Malaysia and the enforcement authorities were alert against them.
Present at the launch were Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, Health Minister Dr S Subramanian and other cabinet members.