Friday, May 18, 2012

Irene Fernandez says cops yet to call over sedition probe

Investigated for sedition, prominent activist Irene Fernandez said today the police have yet to contact her for statements into her alleged remarks on Malaysia being unsafe for migrant workers, published in an Indonesian daily recently.

The Tenaganita executive director told The Malaysian Insider she was not aware of the investigation and had not received any phone calls from the police.

“No, no there were no calls,” she said when contacted, sounding surprised.

Fernandez (picture) declined to respond today, saying she will hold a press conference on Monday instead.

“Not today. On Monday,” she said.

Fernandez added she was aware of the two non-government bodies and officers from the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) who had lodged police reports at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters here on May 16, calling for her to be investigated for alleging that Bangladeshi migrant workers were oppressed and regularly intimidated by the authorities.

City Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah confirmed 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 to give a statement to help in the investigation,” Ku was reported by Bernama as telling reporters today.

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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