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Parti Keadilan Rakyat plans to table a resolution in Parliament urging Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Umno-BN government to act quickly against human trafficking.
A team led by vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah will also seek a meeting with Foreign Minister Anifah Aman to discuss ways and means to repair the damage to the country’s image.
The party led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has lashed out at the government for burying its head in the sand over human rights issues - resulting in the country being put back on a shaming blacklist of nations that failed to do enough to stop the sexual and forced labor exploitation of women and children.
PKR strategic affairs director Tian Chua warned that if Najib continued to ignore world opinion, then the country’s Human Rights Commission or Suhakam would be next in line to be downgraded - this time by the United Nations.
“Enough is enough. Najib must snap out of this state of denial and do more to fix the problem rather than passing the buck and shifting the blame,” Tian Chua told Suara Keadilan at the sidelines of Parliament.
“Just a few day ago on Monday, I received a written reply from the Home Minister that there was no evidence and now look at where we are! This apathy has to stop.”
He and Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh will be drafting the resolution, which the party plans to table in the current June 15-30 sitting.
Not a good record at all despite government denials
But even as Tian spoke, Deputy Home Minister Abu Seman Yusop refuted the United States’ claim that Malaysia was slow to curb human trafficking.
“It is not justifiable to put Malaysia on such a list. It is unfair to put us on the list, as if we are involved in trafficking our people. We have taken preventive measures because we do not want to be a transit point for this activity,” Abu Seman told reporters.
The Obama administration had on Tuesday reinstated Malaysia in its list of top trafficking offenders. This is the third time the Southeast Asian country, one of Washington’s biggest trading partners in the region, has been blacklisted and put into the dreaded ‘Tier 3′ category.
The first was in 2001 but its ranking improved to ‘Tier 2′ in subsequent years until 2007, when it again plunged to ‘Tier 3′. In 2008, it was elevated back to ‘Tier 2′.
If a country appears on the list for two consecutive years, it can be subject to U.S. sanctions.
In the State Department’s annual “Trafficking in Persons Report,” the first released since President Barack Obama took office, 52 countries and territories - mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East - were put on the watchlist.
The report said that Malaysia is a destination and source ‘for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and for men, women and children trafficked for the purpose of forced labour.
It recommended that Malaysia’s government fully implement and enforce anti-trafficking laws and increase prosecutions, convictions and sentences for both sex and labour trafficking.