Flawed news report claiming discrimination against migrants

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (middle). Photo: Bernama

MELAKA: A foreign news special report that alleged Malaysia was discriminating illegal immigrants while enforcing the movement control order (MCO) as part of efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic is flawed.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the news report not only portrayed an inaccurate account of how the government had been managing the outbreak, it also painted a very bad image of the country.

“The beginning and the end of this particular news report were done badly, and in addition had caused much damage to Malaysia’s image. The report kicked-off by mentioning ‘racism’ and ended the same way. Malaysian is a multi-racial and multi-religious country and widely known as a peaceful nation.

“It is not as how portrayed by Al Jazeera at all, I am not too keen with the fact that they started and ended the report with that (racism) as though the situation is so bad over here… this is inaccurate,” he told a media conference here today.

Earlier, Saifuddin attended a ministry state-level special coordination committee meeting at the Melaka Broadcasting Department here.

Ministry secretary-general Datuk Suriani Ahmad and Broadcasting Department director-general Nor Yahati Awang also attended the meeting.

Saifuddin said the news report also did not seem to point out the difference between documented migrants and those who were not.

“We treat foreign workers well and (our) ties with countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal and Vietnam is very good in terms of migrant worker management.

“Illegal immigrants, however, is a different issue altogether but the report seemed to lump both groups (documented and undocumented) together, and this is flawed,” he said.

He said in Malaysia, anyone who gets infected by the virus, including documented foreign workers and illegals, will be treated at government hospitals on taxpayers’ money.

“This fact, however, was left out of their report. We even send ambulances to the homes (of migrants), but the report only seemed to amplify things such as barbed wires mounted for enhanced movement control order (EMCO) cases, but it is a known fact that even Malaysians were subjected to this,” he said.

Saifuddin said both local and foreign media must present their Covid-19 related reports as well as other issues in a fair manner.

He said what should have been the reported was the fact that despite not being a signatory of the United Nations refugee convention, Malaysia is host to more than 150,000 refugees, including the Rohingya community.

“I regret that this (inaccurate news report) happened and I was made to understand that the Information Department is preparing a detailed report… The Ministry of Home Affairs will also be calling in the news agency’s representatives,” he said.

Saifuddin also stressed on the need for journalists and media practitioners to always subscribe to ethical and fair reporting based on facts.

“This is really important, yes this is not the right way to report, (such as) the one documented by Al Jazeera, when we report, we do it fairly with facts. We must always be steadfast in reporting based on facts,” he said. – Bernama