Home minister shrugs off foreign media reports on undocumented migrants

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin during a press conference in Klang today.

KLANG: Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin today brushed off foreign media reports accusing Malaysia of ill-treating undocumented migrants during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying he has “no time” for accusations that put the country’s policies in a negative light.

“I don’t give importance to foreign media,” he said at a press conference here.

“If the foreign media says we are strict or fierce, I think that’s what the people want – to be firm on those who commit crimes.

“I don’t think we should care about foreign media which twists and turns (stories).”

The recent crackdowns on undocumented migrants and infections at immigration detention centres had received wide coverage in both local and international media.

On Friday, news channel Al Jazeera aired an episode on its 101 East programme titled “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown”. The 25-minute video accused the government of using public health and safety reasons to arrest those without documents.

The report sparked a reaction from Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, who yesterday denied claims of racism in handling illegal immigrants during the pandemic.

Hamzah today said the government welcomes foreign workers but that it was only natural that those working illegally are penalised.

“Our government cares more about its citizens, and they want to see stern action taken against illegal workers,” he added.

“It’s not that we don’t allow them to work here. They can work here if they have valid permits and documents.”

He also said that things are done “according to SOPs”.

“If people commit crimes, they have to face the law.”

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