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Migrant workers unable to seek justice

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Joachim Xavier highlights the plight of migrant workers who are unable to seek justice or redress for their grievances because employers knows perfectly well the workers would be deported before any action is successfully taken.

Jivan Kumar is a Nepalese foreign worker who entered Malaysia legally in Dec 2008. He was placed by his agent in a nasi kandar restaurant in Jelutong, Penang. The agent and employer did not bother to apply for a work permit although levy payments were deducted every month from his salary. He was also not regularly paid for his work. When Jivan insisted on a work permit and his outstanding salaries, he was beaten up by the manager, robbed of the little cash had and his handphone and thrown out of his hostel.

Jivan eventually sought the help of the Penang Office for Human Development (an NGO) who helped him make a police report, Labour Department report and sort out his illegal status with Immigration Department. The Immigration had originally wanted to arrest him but changed their mind when the NGO representative insisted that it was the employer who cheated Jivan of his work permit and wages.
The Labour Department had summoned the employer and set a trial date for 16 Dec. The department also wrote to the Immigration Department requesting them to issue a Special Pass (temporary visa) so that Jivan would be able to stay in Malaysia until his case has been disposed off. The Immigration Department has also been informed that there is a pending criminal investigation.

Unfortunately, the Immigration Department has denied Jivan’s access to justice by insisting that he leave the country by 9 Dec – before his labour case comes up for hearing and the criminal investigation completed. This is contrary to natural justice and allows the employer to escape the arms of the law. In fact, the employer knows perfectly well the worker would be deported before any action is successfully taken against him for not paying the wages or for beating up and robbing the worker.

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Despite repeated appeals the Immigration Department is bent on deporting a worker who is none other than a victim of a migration policy in Malaysia that allows the powerful to get away with gross injustices.

The above case is hardly an isolated one.  Several NGOs throughout the country have experienced this injustice on a regular basis and (this problem) is, in the opinion of POHD, a systemic one.

Joachim Xavier
Penang Office for Human Development (POHD)

4 December

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