Friday, August 28, 2009

Malaysia: Human Trafficking Hub

On July 21st this year, this news made headlines: "Malaysian authorities have arrested five immigration officers suspected of selling illegal immigrants from Burma to human traffickers."

The full report at Tenaganita.

On August 26th, The Sun quoted Hishamuddin Hussein, the Home Minister as saying, "political will can resolve human trafficking woes between Malaysia and Australia."

Today's Star says Australia has "identified Malaysia as a transit point".

Human maintains that Malaysia is not only a transit point but also a source and a destination point for human trafficking. The Malaysian Government was placed in Tier 3 in the 2007 U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report for not fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and not making significant efforts to do so.

Marina Mahathir tells more about such modern day slavery in her Rantings blog.

Today, the Associated Press reports of a U.S. warning to Malaysia to "stop human trafficking quickly"

These revelations are a sober reminder of one of the most terrible of social realities that plague this country. For too long, there has been little political will to reign in such atrocities. Worse, it's clear now that government officials themselves have been part of this ring. It's often said that society tends to marginalize the weakest of the weak. In this case, women and children by definition of their gender and social status are deemed "exploitable" by unscrupulous people.

While human trafficking is primarily run by organized criminal syndicates and thus difficult to detect and stop, as consumers all of us can do our part to initiate change. For example, we could be eating food that involves forced labour. We could stop patronizing such places. If we are "kaki nombor ekors", we could stop buying forecast number games from illegal outlets. These can be fronts for many types of illegal activities, including human trafficking. If we employ foreign workers, then we must be vigilant how they are sourced. And, when they are finally here, how do we treat them? True, we may never be able to stop such cruelty altogether, but through small acts like these, we can and should make a stand. After all, the next victim could be one of our own children, daughters or spouses.

Like the proverb goes, "If we are not part of the solution, then we are part of the problem."