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Short special pass for wrongly whipped migrant hints of desire to thwart justice

Sabri Umar was released on 22 July 2022

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We, the 30 undersigned groups, are shocked that the Immigration Department only gave human rights victim, migrant Sabri Umar, an Indonesian passport holder, a two-week special pass on 28 July – instead of the usual one-month special pass – that will allow him to legally remain in Malaysia.

Sabri paid RM100 for a one-month special pass. It is also disconcerting that, when giving Sabri the pass, the immigration allegedly said that two weeks was sufficient for Sabri to make arrangements to leave Malaysia.

Sabri, an Indonesian migrant worker, wants to and needs to remain in Malaysia to enable him to do what is needed to ensure that justice is served.

Sabri was wrongly terminated on 4 April, and there is already a Section 20 Industrial Relations Act claim for reinstatement due to wrongful dismissal. An attempt at conciliation failed, and this case will be referred to the Industrial Court.

Sabri also was wrongfully arrested on 5 April and was not produced before the magistrate within 24 hours, and his detention until about 19 April was without the required remand order(s) by the magistrate.

Sabri, a documented migrant worker with a valid work permit (social visit temporary employment pass) was wrongly charged on 19 April for being illegally in Malaysia.

He was wrongly convicted and wrongly sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment and five stroke of the whip for an offence that he definitely could never be guilty of.

He was wrongfully and illegally whipped on 23 June, despite the fact that his appeal to the High Court had been filed and yet to be heard and determined.

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There are other rights violations as well, and the alleged perpetrators include the police, the Immigration Department, the public prosecutors, the Tawau Prison, the Tawau Sessions Court, and possibly the employer.

On 22 July the High Court called up Sabri’s case for revision, and he was acquitted.

As the Immigration Department had wrongly, without even according Sabri the right to be heard, amended his social visit temporary pass (PLKS), that was supposed to end on 28 January 2023 to now allegedly end on 4 May 2022, Sabri now needs to get a special pass and/or other permits or passes to ensure his legal presence in Malaysia.

If he does not legalise his presence, he is at risk of being arrested, convicted, sentenced and even deported back to Indonesia.

After his release on 22 July, he had to seek refuge in the Indonesian Consulate, and was only free to move around after he received the special pass on 28 July.

Worry about the fact that Malaysia may try to speedily deport or send Sabri out of Malaysia led to now 23 groups issuing a joint statement on 23 July entitled “Do not send recently acquitted wrongly convicted migrant worker out of Malaysia until he exercises his rights in Malaysian courts and other avenues of justice – No attempts of ‘cover-up’ or preventing access of justice”.

Sadly, the concern seems to be justified that Malaysia may attempt to send Sabri out of Malaysia given what happened at the Immigration Department when Sabri was given only a two-week special pass.

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Sabri does have a valid cause of action and claim against Malaysia and the various officers and government departments, and sending Sabri out of Malaysia may be perceived as an attempt to deter or make impossible Sabri’s quest for justice.

A poor migrant worker cannot easily return to Malaysia as and when required for investigation by relevant authorities and bodies or for preparation and participation in his court action, including his claim for reinstatement at the Industrial Court.

The presence of the victim and claimant in investigation and court proceedings is crucial to ensure justice is done.

Sabri, at present, is verifying facts and may soon lodge complaints to the various public service disciplinary bodies, law enforcement bodies, Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), the relevant parliamentary select committees and even the Malaysian human rights commission Suhakam, in addition to court action.

We call on the Malaysian government again to immediately extend the current two-week special pass to rightfully be valid for a month, and thereafter continue to issue the needed special pass or other permits or passes to enable Sabri to remain legally in Malaysia until the end of his quest for justice.

We also call on the Indonesian government to ensure Sabri is not sent back and to assist Sabri to remain in Malaysia for his quest for justice, to ensure all responsible for his human rights violations are duly held responsible. Indonesia must not be seen as complicit with human rights violators.

Charles Hector and Apolinar Z Tolentino Jr released this statement on behalf of the 30 organisations listed below:

  1. Aliran
  2. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet)
  3. Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) Asia Pacific Region
  4. Workers Hub For Change (WH4C)
  5. Asosasyon Ng Mga Makabayang Manggagawang Pilipino Overseas in Malaysia (AMMPO)
  6. Black Women for Wages for Housework
  7. Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged)
  8. Haiti Action Committee
  9. Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (Fadwu)
  10. Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (Idea), Cambodia
  11. International Domestic Workers Federation
  12. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, Malaysia
  13. Koalisi Buruh Migran Berdaulat, Indonesia
  14. Labour Law Reform Coalition, Malaysia
  15. Legal Action for Women, UK
  16. National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers, West Malaysia
  17. National Technical and industrial Workers Federation, Bangladesh
  18. Network of Actions for Migrants in Malaysia (Namm)
  19. Network of Domestic Workers, Thailand
  20. PacificwinPacific, Pacific
  21. Payday Men’s Network, UK/US
  22. Persatuan Pekerja Rumah Tangga Indonesia Migran (Pertimig), Malaysia
  23. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor Malaysia
  24. Sabah Plantation Industry Employees Union (SPIEU)
  25. Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union (STIEU)
  26. Serbuk Indonesia
  27. The William Gomes Podcast, UK
  28. Union of Forestry Department’s Employees Sarawak (Ufes), Malaysia
  29. Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike, US and UK
  30. Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI), Indonesia
The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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9 Aug 2022 1.41pm

The Malaysian institutions are simply criminally complicit in their conduct. They repeatedly with impunity commit such transgressions knowing very well they have immunity. There must be legalisation enacted to hold these malicious manipulative individuals within any institution whose negligence and dereliction of duty are intentional must be prosecuted.

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