Another case of abuse and corruption in Malaysia

Cops seize phones, cash from migrants
  • Hazlan Zakaria
  • 10:39AM May 26, 2012

A group of Burmese migrant workers is crying foul over a raid on their squatter houses near Kajang by police and immigration officers, which saw 31 handphones and RM11,000 in cash seized and 14 of them arrested.

According to the workers, more than 40 police and 15 immigration officers arrived in two trucks and a patrol car at their houses in Kampung Baru Balakong in the wee hours of last Saturday.

The 1am raid occurred just after pay day for the nearly 200 Burmese men and two women, employed at the nearby Bina Plastic Factory.

"I believe they were watching and they knew that it was pay day for the workers," said Father George Harrison, who represented the migrant workers.

The assistant parish priest told Malaysiakini that all the Burmese were properly documented and had valid working permits.

"But they (the police) did not see, or do not want to see (their documents)."

Harrison related claims of the migrant workers, some of whom are parishioners at the Holy Family Church in Kajang, where he is stationed.

The police, he was told, "moved in aggressively and frightened the residents", forcing them to come out of their rooms and houses.

As they stood outside, the migrant workers told Harrison the police and immigration officers ransacked their homes, seizing at least 31 handphones and a total of RM11,000 in cash.

To his knowledge, from talking to those who were victims of the raid, the priest said the police provided no documentation the handphones and money seized, as is a normal police procedure for such seizures.

Mistreatment of migrant workers

The police were also said to have broken down some of the doors to the houses and rooms and injured one man, Myo Win Tun, who was asleep when the raid took place.

Myo said the police officers dragged him by his hair and punched him on the face, causing him to suffer a swollen face.

Fourteen Burmese were also arrested and were taken to the Semenyih Immigration Detention Depot, Harrison said.

The priest added that they have lodged a report with Tenaganita on the police and immigration raid and seizures.

However, Tenaganita, an NGO fighting for the rights of migrant workers, would neither confirm nor deny the report, stressing that it had a duty of confidentiality on on-going cases.

This new complaint follows a long list of alleged mistreatment of migrant workers by Malaysian authorities and Rela members, even those with valid permits and documentation.

Many foreign workers have complained of systematic harassment and extortion by the authorities.

Malaysia's treatment of migrant communities has drawn international censure, especially with what happened to detainees in immigration centres, with the country being chastised in at least one United Nations finding.

(This news is not reported in main stream newspapers)