Bangladeshi man in Al Jazeera video apologises to govt

Lawyers Selvarajaa Chinniah and Sumitha Shaanthini say their client Md Rayhan Kabir never meant to accuse the authorities of wrongdoing.

PUTRAJAYA: The Bangladeshi man being held by authorities over his involvement in an Al Jazeera documentary on the purported mistreatment of migrants during the Covid-19 lockdown today apologised to the government for his remarks on alleged discrimination against undocumented workers.

Speaking to reporters after their meeting with Md Rayhan Kabir, lawyers Selvarajaa Chinniah and Sumitha Shaanthini said their client’s comments had been his personal views.

Selvarajaa also said Rayhan was simply moved when he saw his friends being “arrested and chained” in raids against undocumented migrants in May.

“He did not mean to accuse the enforcement authorities,” he said, adding that the police had already taken Rayhan’s statement.

“He is keen to go back whenever they want to send him home. He would like to go home to be with his family.”

Selvarajaa added that Rayhan had said he was treated well by the authorities throughout his time in detention.

“He is being given perfect treatment with good food,” he added. “He said he had no complaints.

“We will be writing officially to the immigration department about their next course of action and when they will be sending him back home.”

Rayhan was featured in a documentary on Al Jazeera’s 101 East programme which sparked a round of xenophobic comments by social media users and backlash from the government.

“They made a trap for us,” he said in the report titled “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown”.

“They may give food, they give medication. All these things they give. So, no one is expecting they’re going to arrest people.

“They’re not murderers. They’re not criminals. They’re just undocumented.”

The immigration department subsequently published Rayhan’s personal details after failing to track him down, saying he was wanted for investigation under the Immigration Act 1959/63.

The police also began a sedition probe into six of the documentary’s producers, videographers and journalists who were called to give their statements at Bukit Aman earlier this month.

The matter attracted global attention from human rights activists who questioned the government’s stand on freedom of speech.