Press Statements

Media Report that Undermines Malaysia’s Sovereignty

MACSA follows the polemic recently panning out in the media with regard to the mass detentions of undocumented migrants, including refugees with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) Registration Card. There appears to be a major confusion in the public domain on the status of refugee leading to unwarranted prejudice and derision against the refugee community.

The public have been misled by the inability of our mass media to distinguish between illegal immigrants entering the country for economic motivations with refugees who enter illegally to escape persecutions in their homeland and this has resulted in an erroneous demand of similar treatment.

For illegal immigrants seeking economic recompense, MACSA fully acknowledge the right of the state to detain and deport them to their homeland. This right is an enshrined right of any sovereign state and should be respected. It is fallacious to call the exercise of such rights according to the rule of law as discriminatory, xenophobic or racists. However, their detention and deportation should be made in a humane manner in accordance with UNCHR’s Detention Guidelines on the Applicable Criteria and Standards relating to the Detention of Asylum-Seekers and Alternatives to Detention (the Detention Guidelines).

On the other hand, it is not possible to deport the refugees to their homeland unless the persecution in their homeland has ended. Malaysians should be made aware that refugees in Malaysia are not legally recognized and thus bereft of many basic rights and benefits afforded to a person residing in Malaysia. We need to treat refugees differently from the economic illegal immigrants instead by providing basic rights to ensure that we are not burdened further with social ills and problems as seen now. Towards this end, MACSA urges the Government to enact a new Refugee Act to address the shortcomings that the country currently face. The rakyat must be assured that the Act does not and will not seek the granting of any kind of citizenship to the refugee, but instead to provide them with basic sustenance rights until they are able to be repatriated back home.

Having said the above, MACSA would like to take this opportunity to applaud the Government in the efforts to control Covid-19. This is more so considering the resources that have already been expanded to convert Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) into a Covid-19 quarantine centre for undocumented migrants. Added to this is the report that the Government has expanded million of ringgit to maintain these detention centres including for the meals provided to the detainees.

Finally, MACSA strongly condemns the documentary by Al Jazeera that misrepresented realities by alluding that the Government’s enhanced movement control order (EMCO) policy was improper and motivated by racism and xenophobia. EMCO has been applied to both malaysians and foreigners without discrimination. Instead of creating sympathy for the illegal immigrants, the misrepresentation and fallacious assertion has created distrust among migrants, refugees and local host community as well as dangerously exposing its interviewees to ridicule, contempt and derision. This report that is ridden with fallacious sentiments, hearsay and biasness also has jeopardised advocacy works by local NGOs in our struggle for the rights of refugees.

MACSA appreciates the highlight of the economic suffering of the refugee by Al Jazeera in the documentary. However the misrepresentation and false assertion was dishonorable and discredited the documentary.

Towards this end, MACSA echoes the Government’s call for a formal apology from al Jazeera in its biased report and further implore all media to adopt fairness and accuracy in their reporting to ensure that facts are not misrepresented to create disharmony in Malaysia.


Lukman Sheriff Alias, Chairperson, the Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process (MACSA)

Associate Professor Dr. Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar, President of The International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education (WAFIQ) and Co-Chairperson, MACSA.

The Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process (MACSA) is a coalition of civil society organisations with the specific aim and object to look into, as well as advocate, human rights issues in Malaysia for the UPR Process.

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