PETALING JAYA: The government should address issues raised in the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report instead of brushing it off as not reflective of its efforts to counter the problem, says Kasthuri Patto.
The DAP MP said home minister Hamzah Zainudin, who made this comment, should “take his head out of the sand” and take a good hard look at data, statistics and the faces of victims of trafficking and the evil faces of the perpetrators, which even allegedly involved officers in his own ministry.
“Nothing less than a royal commission of inquiry must be set up to scrutinise and get to the root of the problem and come up with ways to rectify the situation,” she said in a statement in conjunction with the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons today.
Hamzah said recently that the 2022 TIP report, which retained Malaysia in Tier 3 like the year before, was not reflective of the Malaysian government’s efforts to counter trafficking.
Kasthuri said the minister should explain an observation in the TIP report which stated that the government did not “prosecute or convict officials who were allegedly complicit in trafficking-related crimes”.
“For years, Malaysia has been on the Tier 2 watchlist.
“Last year, Malaysia fell into Tier 3, the lowest rung in the list and among countries that have grave human rights violations.
“They include Afghanistan, Myanmar, Iran, North Korea, Syria, South Sudan and even Russia, which is still hammering Ukraine as we speak.
“These are countries that have had civil wars, political instability and have some of the gravest human rights violations in the world,” she said.
She said to date, there has also been no statement yet from the newly minted Suhakam chairman Rahmat Mohamad or any of the commissioners on the TIP report.
Kasthuri, who is a member of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee for International Affairs, said the evidence of violations is glaring but if the government adopted the attitude of “it knows best” then it was likely that it would be part of the problem instead of being the solution.
She said besides exploiting foreign workers, sex trafficking is rife, fuelled by a lack of enforcement, corruption and the lucrative income from the flesh trade.
This year alone, there had been numerous reports in the media of enforcement officers being probed for their involvement in trafficking syndicates.
“Let us never forget the lives of innocent men, women and children, all victims of human trafficking, in the damning discovery of mass graves in Wang Kelian, on Malaysian soil, bordering the south of Thailand. Malaysia was in Tier 2 at that time.
“While I welcome stiffer penalties, and the road map of the National Action Plan on Anti-Trafficking in Persons, in place from 2021 to 2025, the prospects of an improvement and an upgrade to Tier 2 remains bleak without the matter being addressed holistically,” she said.