While checking the facts for a recent story on Malaysian terrorism suspects in Guantanamo, I looked at the country profiles on the US Central Intelligence Agency website.
I couldn’t wait to see how Malaysia is viewed by arguably the world’s largest spy agency and, by extension, by the US government itself.
Governments around the world do not take the CIA’s findings lightly. Foreign investors doing their due diligence on whether to invest in a certain country will heed CIA “statements” regarding that country, and Malaysia is no exception to this method of valuation.
I was in shock after reading how the CIA World Factbook assessed the country in its section on transnational issues. It was a damning report, albeit a blatant generalization of the nation.
However, the report also contained some hard truths.
Under the “current situation” of Malaysia’s statute which was last updated on April 30 of this year, he said:
“Malaysia is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a country of origin and transit for men, women and children subjected to forced labor, and women and children subjected to sex trafficking; Malaysia is primarily a destination country for foreign workers who migrate voluntarily from countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Nepal, Burma, and other Southeast Asian countries, but who are then faced with forced labor or debt bondage in agriculture, construction, factories and domestic services. in the hands of employers, employment agents and labor recruiters; women from Southeast Asia and, to a lesser extent, from Africa, are recruited for legal work in restaurants, hotels and salons, but are forced into prostitution; refugees, including Rohingya adults and children, are not legally allowed to work and are vulnerable to trafficking; a small number of Malaysians are trafficked within the country and sexually trafficked abroad.
The CIA’s “verdict” is shocking to say the least, as it painted the entire nation with the same brush. All because there are rotten scoundrels in every segment of our nation, including law enforcement agencies, underground operators, and ordinary citizens working in cahoots.
However, it cannot be denied that we are a nation where corruption, persecution and abuse of illegal workers as well as human trafficking seem to have flourished year after year.
Who is at fault here? Do we blame the government, politicians and other authorities for the way we have been branded? It is painful to know that we are seen as a heartless country that allows or ignores these heinous acts of tyranny.
While every Malaysian who loves this nation should be outraged by this description, I must point out that there are specific enforcement and security ministries and agencies that should wake up and clean up their act to make things right.
I have to say that the Home Office should be at the forefront to correct the perception while the Human Resources Department also has an important role as the description touches a lot on the abuse of foreign workers.
Of course, powerful law enforcement agencies like the police and the Immigration Department, which have unfortunately received quite a bit of bad press about alleged links to underworld kingpins, will have no problem. no choice but to say frankly if there is any hope that the CIA will revise his post. .
It is easy to point fingers at law enforcement authorities, but Malaysians must also take some responsibility for tolerating corrupt and unethical practices that they have consciously or unconsciously tolerated.
Many of us criticize and quickly see any news or videos of corrupt practices. However, many of us are also the first to try to “settle” cases when we are stuck in a bind to avoid paying fines or going to court. Many are also willing to offer “kopi leads” to officials to “speed things up” for them.
As we have seen, unscrupulous employers of foreign workers have also embarrassed the nation, practicing child labor and debt bondage. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and both Malaysians and regulators have contributed to our international status.
Our detention centers for illegal immigrants are overflowing with detainees, but for some reason we hardly hear about their employers being taken to court and given heavy fines and jail terms according to the law. Why is this so?
Of course, some can argue why Malaysia is even bothered by the CIA report because the agency is an American tool, but I disagree. I’m sure they have agents here who return reports that cannot be considered fictitious. If there is no smoke, there is no fire.
With this damning CIA assessment of Malaysia, it’s no wonder the US State Department has placed Malaysia on its Level 2 watch list. This means that we are not fully meeting the requirements of its law. of 2000 on the protection of victims of trafficking, but that we are making significant efforts. We’ve been on this list since 2017.
We need a nationwide battle to change the negative image of Malaysia in the eyes of the United States and the rest of the world as our economy is very dependent on international trade.
It is not enough to clean up the police and immigration authorities. Most importantly, every Malaysian should stand up and be counted.
It is obvious that the government and its people must take responsibility and work harder to correct the injustices that have tarnished the country’s image for too long.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.