Migrant workers at risk of robbery in Malaysia
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.