Friday, May 18, 2012

Cops probing Irene Fernandez for sedition over ‘unsafe Malaysia’ remark

Police have opened an investigation paper on Irene Fernandez for sedition, following the prominent activist’s remarks that Malaysia was unsafe for migrant workers, published in an Indonesian paper recently.

City Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah said the investigation was based on two police reports filed two days ago.

"Maybe under (the) Sedition (Act) but we have to see first. We may also call her give a statement to help in the investigation,” Ku was reported by Bernama as telling reporters today.

The national news agency reported that two non-government bodies and officers from the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) had lodged police reports at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters on May 16, calling for the Tenaganita executive director to be investigated for alleging that Bangladeshi migrant workers were oppressed and regularly intimidated by the authorities.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was yesterday reported to have condemned Fernandez for her remarks that were damaging to the country, saying she was disloyal.

The human rights activist, who is 66 this year, was questioned by officials from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) last week for criticising Malaysia’s treatment of migrant workers in the Indonesian daily.

The Jakarta Post had on May 7 reported Fernandez as saying, among others, that Malaysia was not safe for Indonesian workers because it did not have a legal framework or specific laws to protect migrant workers.

She was also reported to have said that it was not in the police’s power to shoot dead three Indonesian nationals, who had been suspected of burglary and robbery, in an incident in Port Dickson recently.

Fernandez has since come under heavy fire locally for her criticism, which detractors say has painted Malaysia in a negative light, was unpatriotic and detrimental to Malaysia’s bilateral relations with Indonesia.

She has since disputed the remarks and said the Jakarta Post would print a correction to the article.

But she stressed that she would not back down from her stand that Malaysia continues to be a “completely” unsafe environment for Indonesian workers.

The activist, who was once jailed for exposing the allegedly poor conditions at local immigration centres, also refused to apologise for her statements, demanding instead that the government and her critics apologise to her.

Indonesia recently lifted the moratorium on the supply of domestic workers to Malaysia, but Indonesian Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar has repeatedly said Jakarta would not send workers until Putrajaya could ensure their protection.

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