Apologise to Malaysians, Ismail tells Al Jazeera over undocumented migrants report

Ismail Sabri Yaakob says authorities had used the Immigration Act, similar to those in other countries, to detain those who did not have official documents during the lockdown..

PUTRAJAYA: Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob has urged international news outlet Al Jazeera to issue an apology to Malaysians over its report accusing the country of ill-treating undocumented migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ismail dismissed the accusations levelled against Putrajaya as “lies, ill-intentioned and without clear facts”, saying the authorities had given equal treatment to all residents under any lockdown in the locality.

He also said the authorities did not act in a racist manner in detaining undocumented migrants amid the movement control order (MCO), but according to the law.

“The Immigration (Department) used the Immigration Act to detain those who didn’t have official documents. I ask Al Jazeera to give us the names of any country in the world that allows undocumented migrants to roam freely in the country.

“As far as I know, there isn’t, because every country has a nearly similar Immigration Act, that every migrant coming into the country must have official documents,” he said at a press conference today.

Ismail said undocumented migrants were holed up in their homes just like other migrants or citizens during lockdowns, adding that they were also screened with the government bearing the costs.

He said those who tested positive were likewise treated for free by the government, reiterating that this was part of Putrajaya’s policy during the pandemic.

He also said Al Jazeera had blatantly lied about undocumented migrant children being handcuffed as they were brought to immigration depots.

He said children were not handcuffed and were instead separated from other detainees in special areas with their parents.

“These are the facts. But it seems Al Jazeera doesn’t want to know these facts because of its ill-intention towards Malaysia.

“As an international media organisation who are supposed to have high journalistic ethics, I really hope that they would stop their actions. And I ask them, if possible, to apologise to Malaysians,” he said.

Ismail also thanked Malaysians for their support towards Putrajaya’s actions and their opposition towards the news outlet’s accusations, saying many of them had disliked Al Jazeera’s 101 East episode posted on YouTube.

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