Explain depot cluster, Maria Chin tells immigration

The Bukit Jalil immigration depot which was declared a Covid-19 cluster yesterday.

PETALING JAYA: Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah has urged the immigration department to take responsibility for and explain the Covid-19 cluster at the detention centre in Bukit Jalil.

She said the department may not have carried out testing and isolation SOP for detainees, leaving migrants holed up there exposed to the virus.

She urged immigration authorities to disclose the measures it had taken to prevent further spread of the virus, adding that high-risk individuals such as the elderly, pregnant women and children might be among those at the centre.

“The heartless and inhumane treatment by the authorities towards migrants by cattling them together will only help in the spread of the virus.

“Not only will it affect the detainees, it could also spread to immigration officers and others who are tending to the detainees.

“Only now, with the detection of the cluster, are health services being directed to immigration detention depots,” she said in a statement today.

Maria also urged Putrajaya to stop the detention of undocumented migrants and to offer them temporary amnesty in order to encourage them to come forward for screening.

She said their migrant status could be resolved through the relevant laws and procedures once the conditional movement control order is lifted.

“The government must take the treatment of migrants seriously especially during the Covid-19 outbreak. Do not treat and detain migrants like cattle,” she added.

She also called for a halt to xenophobic attitudes towards migrants, warning that such sentiments could cause other minority and marginalised groups in Malaysia to be maligned.

She said migrants had been demonised by Putrajaya’s policies over the years, making them the scapegoats for crimes and forming prejudice against the community.

“However, migrants are enticed to come over when our economy needs them to do the dirty, low paying and difficult jobs.

“We tend to look the other way even if migrants are undocumented as there is still a huge profit to be made from this human trafficking.”

The depot was classified as a new Covid-19 cluster yesterday after the detection of 35 positive cases there.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the 35 were placed at the depot before the movement control order was enforced on March 18.

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