Abdullah should make a Ministerial statement and apology in Parliament for the roughing up of 270 Indians including IT professionals in Brickfields yesterday and give assurance that police and immigration will not spike the national IT plan to hire the best brains regardless of race and nationality, “from Bangalore to California”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Unknown to most Malaysians, the country received a terrible bashing in the national media in India today and the cyberspace of the world Indian diaspora, with screaming headlines like “IT professionals among 270 Indians roughed up in Malaysia” (The Hindu front page), “Malaysian cops harass 270 Indians” (Times of India), “270 Indians rounded up, released by Malaysian police” (www.rediff.com – one of India’s leading Internet portals focussing on India and the global Indian community).
They carried the Press Trust of India (PTI) report of its Kuala Lumpur correspondent on the Sunday raid by the police in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur yesterday, rounding up around 270 Indians, including many IT professionals, and allegedly defaced their passports, slapped and kicked several of them before releasing all but five later.
The PTI report said:
“This was the outcome of a dawn swoop in search of illegal immigrants on one high-rise apartment in the ethnic Indian dominated Brickfields neighbourhood in central Kuala Lumpur.
“A Malaysian police officer had earlier told PTI that some 164 Indians had been picked up during a raid on one building adding they were released following the intervention of the Indian High Commission and proof that they had valid visas.
“Some showed they were working for companies registered in Malaysia's Multi-media Super Corridor, the Information Technology project zone running from Kuala Lumpur to the new development of Cyberjaya, some 45 minutes' drive away, he said.
“’This has been a black day for all of us,’ Indian High Commissioner Veena Sikri said addressing the detainees after their release.
“’We have taken the matter to the highest authority, and we will get to the bottom of the issue.’
“Police initially denied Indian officials access to the detained Indian nationals, but later relented.
“Several Indians taken into custody showed PTI their passports, pointing out that their visas had been scratched.
“A Malaysian immigration official, who verified the defaced visas, said the individuals and their employers would have to apply to his department for a fresh visa.
“The detainees recounted how police burst into their homes and herded them to a nearby police station, from where some were taken to jail.
“’We were handcuffed and made to kneel or sit in the police station car park, some of us were slapped and kicked,’ said Nagaraju Cheekoti, an IT professional working for WWI Malaysia.
“Some said they were ordered to do sit-ups, while others said they were stripped to their underwear, slapped and kicked inside the station. Police confiscated their cell phones and refused them access to telephones.
“Police officials at the Brickfields station refused to speak to PTI.
“’We don't want to stay in this country if we are treated like this. We have come here at the invitation of Malaysian companies,’ said one of the detainees to a chorus of approval from other detainees. ‘We don't feel safe,’ he said.”
This is a most deplorable incident which has brought adverse publicity to Malaysia in India, regionally and the world. Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in his capacity as Home Minister in charge of both police and immigration, should make a Ministerial statement and apology in Parliament tomorrow for the roughing up of 270 Indians including IT professionals in Brickfields yesterday and give assurance that police and immigration will not spike the national IT plan to hire the best brains regardless of race and nationality, “from Bangalore to California”.
For the past four years, the government had been trying to create a world-class workforce so that Malaysia will have "a pool of the best talents from at home and abroad" to ensure the country will have a successful K-economy, including hiring the best brains regardless of race and nationality, “from Bangalore to California”.
What happened at Brickfields yesterday was doubly unfortunate – a most nasty experience to the Indian IT professionals and a setback to the country’s plan to attract the best brains abroad to come to Malaysia to help transform Malaysia into a K-economy.
Abdullah should explain to Parliament the reasons for the most improper, high-handed and unprofessional actions of the police and immigration in the Brickfields raid yesterday, in particular the physical abuses, defacing of the visas, refusal to allow Indian nationals access to the Indian High Commission, etc.
A public apology by the government to Indian IT professionals for their mistreatment yesterday is in order and should be made in Parliament tomorrow.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman