(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Malaysians are very concerned about the riots at the Immigration Detention Centres at Semenyih in Selangor, Lenggeng in Negri Sembilan and Machap Umbo in Malacca, resulting in the deaths of a policemen and eight Indonesians.
Malaysians are caught in a bind by the developments at the Immigration Detention Centres. On the one hand, they give full support to the government’s new-found resolve to check the increasing influx of illegal immigrants because of adverse short, medium and long-term economic, social and security repercussions but on the other hand, they find the use of repatriation methods at detention centres involving deaths and serious injuries of both the enforcement officers and the illegal immigrants as quite unacceptable.
There should be an independent investigation into the riots and deaths and review of the repatriation process of the illegal immigrants at detention centres and a distinction should be made between political refugees and economic migrants.
The Acheh/Sumatra National Liberation Front has alleged that the repatriation operation which sparked off the riots at the Immigration Detention Centres yesterday was targetted at the Achehnese refugees, who had fled to Malaysia to escape massacres by Indonesian military forces and risk torture, extrajudicial execution or "disappearances" on their forced repatriation.
DAP calls for a stop to the current spate of repatriation of the Achehnese refugees until the Malaysian government can guarantee that all Achehnese seeking asylum have full access to a fair and satisfactory procedure to determine their refugee status.
It is important that the Government secure maximum support and consensus for all sectors of society on a repatriation process where Malaysians are not uncomfortable about the level of force used by the Malaysian authorities, which would also compromise Malaysia’s international standing.
Any indiscriminate use of force in this regard can also create grave social and law-and-security problems in the country in view of the earlier government policy in closing its eyes to a huge illegal immigrant population in the country.
This is an urgent problem as Indonesia’s economic crisis is going to deepen and send new waves of increasing numbers of Indonesians across the seas, fleeing growing hardships at home.
The Indonesian Government announced yesterday that Indonesia’s unemployed have doubled to about 8.7 million since the country's economic crisis began last year, making up almost 10 per cent of the workforce.
An Indonesian Manpower Ministry spokesman said another 18.4 million people in the workforce of 90 million were underemployed, meaning they worked less than 35 hours a week.
These figures contrast with those given by the Indonesian government last month, which estimated the jobless rate would reach 10 per cent only by the end of the year.
DAP will move a motion of urgent, definite public importance in Parliament on Monday for an independent investigation into the riots and deaths yesterday and review of the repatriation process of the illegal immigrants at detention centres.