KUALA LUMPUR, 17 June 2009: The US’s decision to place Malaysia in the blacklist of countries trafficking in people is unfair, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Abu Seman Yusop said today.
“I think it is not justifiable to put us on the blacklist,” he told the press in Parliament today.
“This is as though we are involved in the trafficking of people,” Abu Seman added.
Abu Seman said that Malaysia should be taken off the list, and that he would discuss how this would be done with Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
The deputy minister was responding the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report 2009, which was released yesterday. The report blacklisted 17 countries, including Malaysia.
“Malaysia is a destination and … a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, and for men, women, and children trafficked for the purpose of forced labour,” said the report.
Abu Seman explained that Malaysia had enacted the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007.
“Under this Act, we have a lot of power. We have already set up a committee (to deal) with this problem,” he added. “We have arrested a number of illegal entrants in our waters recently.”
Abu Seman also revealed that Malaysia was working closely with its neighbours to combat the issue. However, he failed to reveal any concrete strategies to specifically address human trafficking.
In a written answer to a question posed by Tian Chua (Batu-PKR) on 15 June, the Home Ministry said that there was no evidence that indicated government officials were involved in human trafficking.
“The government will not hesitate to take legal action against any public servants if there is truth and strong evidence in the allegations,” the statement said.
Serious action needed
However, Chua revealed that there were clear indications that the Malaysian authorities are involved in facilitating human trafficking.
In a press conference in Parliament today, Chua said that it was not enough for the government to merely deny the problem.
“I call upon the government to take serious action,” Chua said. “This is not something beyond our control, as it involves government officials. The government can act upon the matter.”
Chua revealed that he would be moving an emergency motion on 22 June to debate the issue.
“We need a consensus that this cannot go on,” Chua said.