Thursday, February 25, 2021

Contempt of court - sack the civil servant (civilian) who loves to strut around in full 4-star uniform?


Immigration DG must be sacked over latest blunder

by Martin Vengadesan

Late last week, three Myanmar ships rolled into Lumut for the purpose of picking up human cargo. It had already been announced by the Immigration Department that up to 1,200 Myanmar nationals would be repatriated.

However, given the crisis in Myanmar where a military coup has toppled the democratically-elected government, and there is a new regime that shows no compunction in killing unarmed protestors, this arrangement should instantly raise alarms bells.

It didn’t seem to ring clearly enough with Immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud, however.

He was told time and again to hold off the deportation. On Feb 13, Research Centre for the Advancement of the Community and Housing (Reach) coordinator Iskandar Abdul Samad called for a cautious approach on the deportation saying there were serious concerns over the safety of the Rohingyas facing threats of ethnic violence in Myanmar.

On Feb 20, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told Reuters at least six people registered with it were believed to be on the deportation list.

On Feb 21, Pakatan Harapan leaders said they were worried that Malaysia was making a grave mistake in possibly sending back political refugees to a terrible fate under Myanmar's new military dictatorship.

Indeed, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng asked the Malaysian government to reconsider its decision as it legitimises the Myanmar military junta.

They added that it was irresponsible to repatriate refugees back to a conflict zone so soon after a civil-military confrontation which could put their safety at risk.

All this culminated in the Kuala Lumpur High Court granting an interim stay against the deportation on Feb 23, following an application by Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia.

The rights groups had details of three asylum seekers registered with the UNHCR and 17 minors with at least one parent still in Malaysia.

Contempt of court

What followed was absolutely shocking.

In what many are calling a display of incompetence, arrogance and shocking inhumanity, 1,086 Myanmar nationals were sent home on the three Myanmar ships.

Even if we take Khairul Dzaimee at his word that all of those who were sent home had agreed to return voluntarily without any coercion, this is a blatant violation of the High Court order.

Just last week, Malaysiakini was punished with contempt of court that resulted in a hefty RM500,000 fine for some readers comments that were quickly removed after they were brought to the website’s attention.

The actions by the Immigration director-general in disregarding the High Court’s interim stay could have the unintended repercussion of putting refugees in the firing line of a trigger-happy regime.

The message that is being sent is that the government does not respect its own court process and has little compassion for the human rights situation of our neighbours.

So what’s going to happen next? Will Khairul Dzaimee be let off with a slap on the wrist?

Let’s not forget what an important position he occupies in the context of managing migrant workers, documented or otherwise, in our efforts to get herd immunity to Covid-19 through inoculation.

Look at his track record. Last year, the Public Accounts Committee visited the Lenggeng Immigration Depot in Negeri Sembilan and found that they were unsuitable for children being held there.

Earlier in the year, Covid-19 was detected among Bukit Jalil Immigration Depot detainees in May even though migrant rights group Tenaganita had repeatedly raised concerns over a potential outbreak among detainees at the facilities.

Its executive director cited the confined quarters and the constant cycle of people entering and leaving centres as well as inadequate healthcare as reasons for the outbreak.

Aside from Bukit Jalil, clusters of Covid-19 infections involving immigration detainees also sprung up in Sepang and Semenyih depots.

Wrong man for the job

Of course, one of the reasons the immigration depot populations had swelled was because the Immigration Department had taken advantage of the enhanced movement control order in April to conduct mass raids on undocumented migrants in Selayang, Masjid India, Petaling Jaya Old Town and Chow Kit.

His policies also came into question during the controversial Al Jazeera documentary “Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown” which made waves in July 2020. He responded by deporting whistleblower Md Rayhan Kabir to Bangladesh and blacklisting him from ever coming back to Malaysia again.

It would seem that this director-general is the wrong man for the job at a time when we need an innovative approach to making sure that the massive undocumented migrant population does not hinder our country’s recovery from the scourge of Covid-19.

There are an estimated 3.5 million undocumented migrant workers beyond the 2.1 million who are here legally.

We need someone with humanitarian values who can help coordinate an amnesty, vaccination and then either legalisation for those with valid jobs and deportation for those without them.

Based on what Khairul Dzaimee has done in his two years on the job, the government should be asking if he deserves to continue at the helm.

MARTIN VENGADESAN is associate editor in Malaysiakini


  1. The refugees sent back were Chin and Kachin, who are non-Muslim. Rohinya refugees were allowed to stay. But in reality the mainly Christian Chin and Kachin minority groups are just as persecuted as the Muslim Rohinyas. So why did we discriminate?

  2. communist vs communist, muslim rohingya suffer.

    1. Katak-ised fart of the nth order, dressed up as mfering sophism!

  3. The Immigration Department is under tremendous pressure from both the Government and the Public over the Massive number of illegals in the country.

    Like Trump's ICE, they resort to heavy-handed measures just to show they are "doing something".

    The deeply entrenched Corruption in the Immigration Department has yet to be seriously addressed.

    Just to be clear, Immigration in Malaysia is a uniformed service, though obviously non-military.

    Their officers , includingnthe DG, have an official uniform, though most office personnel wear normal street clothes during normal workdays.

  4. Dream on if you hope any action will be taken against the DG.

    1. You are right. Civil servant at DG level normally cannot do any wrong especially if he/she is well connected. And come to think about it, immigration DG post is a highly political post. Remember the former imi DG-aseh Che mat? After he retired?