World Bulletin / News Desk
False employment and a high perception before arrival, compared to a low reality on landing, were just two of factors that saw Malaysia relegated to Tier-3 - joining Zimbabwe, North Korea and Saudi Arabia - in the latest annual U.S. human trafficking report.
Neighboring Thailand fared no better as it was also downgraded to the lowest possible rating.
According to the report, of the 2 million foreigners in Malaysia most are victims of trafficking, with a significant 25 percent arriving in the nation looking for employment and competitive salaries.
Many victims are from the country's South Asian regional neighbors, such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Bangladesh.
While acknowledging Malaysia's preventative efforts against trafficking, the report said enforcement had been weak in recent years where victim identification has been reduced. It added that there has also been a slowdown in prosecutions and convictions in the past year compared to 2012.
The report also indicated that Malaysian authorities had failed to investigate cases brought to them by related organizations or associations. Immigration officers in particular are suspected of playing a role in trafficking, but are yet to be prosecuted.
The chairman of the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute Ramon Navaratnam told the Anadolu Agency that the ranking threatens to tarnish the image of Malaysia globally, as the country has always been regarded as a tourist friendly nation, while opposition parliamentarian and social activist Dr. Tan Seng Giaw called for the government to act.
"Whether the report is accurate or otherwise, it is time for the government and relevant authorities to be alert and start picking up," he told Anadolu Agency. "We at the parliament do frequently raise questions in the plight of the trafficking victims and asylums status. What’s shown to us is always the bright side."
The downgrade serves as a reality check given U.S. President Barack Obama's friendly approach during a three-day working visit to Kuala Lumpur.
"It will definitely disrupt the Malaysian economy, [and] knowing that we are such cruel people which would also slow down tourist inflow," said Navaratnam.
"When Obama was here, it was all fine and ties between both countries were brought to a new level. This ranking downgrade is not a testament to the good ties. Our government must immediately contact their counterparts and put this right," he stressed.
According to the report, the U.S. downgrade usually can end in economic sanctions and loss of development aid.
The TiP report ranks 188 nations according to their willingness and efforts to combat trafficking, and is seen as the benchmark for global anti-trafficking commitment.Last Mod: 21 Haziran 2014, 15:16