PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pix) has slammed Al Jazeera for alleging that Malaysia engaged in discriminatory treatment of illegal immigrants during the movement control order (MCO).
The Senior Minister (Security Cluster) described the international news channel’s 25-minute documentary “Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown” as misleading, baseless and flawed, and has demanded an apology.
“The wild accusations they made against Malaysia is inappropriate, of ill-intention, and without facts,” he said in his Covid-19 press briefing in Putrajaya today.
“I hope an international media like them, who are supposed to have ethics, will stop such (baseless) reporting, and I demand that they apologise to all Malaysians,” he added.
Ismail was asked to comment on the Al Jazeera 101 East report on July 3 accusing the government of being racist for arresting undocumented foreigners under the guise of public health and safety.
The segment included interviews with both documented and undocumented migrants, NGOs, civil societies, and trade associations, among others.
Ismail maintained that any arrests made against the illegal immigrants throughout the MCO period were done according to the law, namely the Immigration Act.
“We can ask Al Jazeera to name a single country that allows undocumented migrants to move freely in their country, I challenge them. Maybe they know some,” he said.
The senior minister also rubbished claims that only foreigners were placed behind barbed wires to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that any area put under the enforced MCO would be fenced.
“It’s not only for foreigners. Even if you are a local, like (those from) the tahfiz centre in Hulu Langat, your movement will still be restricted,” he explained.
Ismail said in fact, foreigners were even given equal treatment, during the Covid-19 outbreak, noting how those who were tested positive of the virus would be isolated and received treatment in quarantine centres.
He said this was the case for both documented and undocumented migrants.
“But regardless whether you are positive of negative of Covid-19, if you are an illegal immigrant, you will be treated as one,” he said.
“Doesn’t mean if you are negative, we can set you free. Because at the end of the day, your status is still illegal,” he remarked.
Ismail also rubbished allegations by Al Jazeera that illegal foreign children were handcuffed during immigration operations, claiming this to be an “open lie”.
“This is not true. In fact, we even isolate children and their parents from other illegal immigrants. This is the fact, but I don’t believe Al Jazeera wants the fact,” he said.