Mi­grant work­ers at risk of rob­bery in Malaysia

The Myanmar Times - - News - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­times.com

MYAN­MAR na­tion­als are be­ing tar­geted by gangs of thieves on ar­rival to Kuala Lumpur’s main long-dis­tance bus ter­mi­nal, say em­bassy of­fi­cials in the Malaysian cap­i­tal.

“Th­ese rob­bery cases have been oc­cur­ring for a long time. There are more and more in­stances of Myan­mar cit­i­zens be­ing tar­geted. We al­ways make re­ports to the Malaysian police force but they don’t think it is any­thing out of the or­di­nary, just a usual case,” said an of­fi­cial at the Myan­mar em­bassy in Kuala Lumpur who asked not to be named.

The of­fi­cial said Myan­mar cit­i­zens ar­riv­ing at the Ter­mi­nal Bersepadu Se­la­tan (TBS) bus sta­tion at night or in the early hours of the morn­ing were at risk of be­ing robbed by gangs that in­clude taxi driv­ers.

According to U Thiha Maung Maung, a mi­grant rights ac­tivist from the Malaysia-based Sitagu Sayadaw group, many Myan­mar cit­i­zens ar­rive dur­ing the night from out­side of Kuala Lumpur to ap­ply for ci­ti­zen­ship doc­u­ments, visas and pass­ports.

“Mi­grants from out­side of Kuala Lumpur are afraid of ar­riv­ing late to the em­bassy. So they come here on the night ex­press and they ar­rive to TBS very early in the morn­ing,” he said.

“There have been many cases of th­ese peo­ple be­ing robbed by taxi driv­ers and peo­ple work­ing with them,” he added.

On Novem­ber 21, the Myan­mar em­bassy in Malaysia is­sued a state­ment warn­ing its cit­i­zens who need to visit the em­bassy not to travel on overnight ex­press buses.

“We are look­ing for solutions, given the num­ber of times our cit­i­zens have been robbed,” an em­bassy of­fi­cial said. “We have told peo­ple to travel in the day­time and we will carry out what­ever tasks they need as soon as they ar­rive.”

The em­bassy state­ment said the mis­sion would ac­cept the sub­mis­sion of ap­pli­ca­tions for over­seas doc­u­men­ta­tion up un­til 2pm each day so that cit­i­zens may ar­rive later.

The state­ment also ref­er­enced a num­ber of new se­cu­rity mea­sures that would be en­acted at the em­bassy, in­clud­ing bar­ring any­one ac­com­pa­ny­ing an ap­pli­cant from en­ter­ing the premises in a bid to re­duce dis­tur­bances.

In re­cent months there have been a num­ber of se­ri­ous crimes com­mit­ted against Myan­mar na­tion­als in Malaysia.

Last month, four Myan­mar con­struc­tion work­ers were mur­dered by a group of masked men in Kota Bharu, north­ern Malaysia.

Em­bassy of­fi­cials say Malaysian police have in­formed them that they have 10 sus­pects in cus­tody in re­la­tion to the mur­ders, though the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the killings is on­go­ing.

Malaysia is home to a sub­stan­tial pop­u­la­tion of Myan­mar mi­grant work­ers, many of whom are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble given their lack of proper visa doc­u­ments.

It is es­ti­mated that there are be­tween 500,000 to 700,000 Myan­mar cit­i­zens liv­ing in Malaysia, with more than 3000 trav­el­ling there each month for work, according to fig­ures from the Myan­mar Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Agen­cies Fed­er­a­tion.

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