Malaysian Immigration Department has circulated a notice today, seeking public information on a Bangladeshi national to be investigated under the Immigration Act, after he spoke of mistreatment of migrants during Covid-19 lockdown in an Al Jazeera documentary aired last week.
Malaysian police also said they will summon reporters of the news broadcaster for questioning over the documentary on the country's arrests of undocumented migrants, which authorities have accused of being an attempt to tarnish Malaysia's image.
In its notice, the Immigration Department provided the name of the 25-year-old man, his passport number and his last known address in Kuala Lumpur, urging the public to contact the department with any information they could provide to assist in the investigations.
The Bangladeshi was among migrants from Pakistan and Indonesia quoted by Al Jazeera in 101 East documentary, and his personal details have since been circulated by Malaysians online who are angry with the critical report, which carried allegations of mistreatment of migrant workers in Malaysia, reports Malay Mail.
Malay Mail reported on Monday, the company, which had previously contracted the Bangladeshi's services disassociated itself with him, calling his views "biased" and pledged cooperation with authorities. It said the man never worked as its employee, adding that his statements were his own personal views and did not reflect the company's stand.
"Locked up in Malaysia's Lockdown", produced by Qatar-based Al Jazeera, focused on the plight of thousands of undocumented migrants detained during raids carried out in areas under tight coronavirus lockdowns.
It sparked backlash online while several officials decried the report as being inaccurate, misleading and unfair, reports Reuters.
The backlash comes amid concerns over crackdowns on press freedom under Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's government, which came into power in March, as well as rising anger towards foreigners and refugees, who have been accused of spreading the coronavirus and burdening state resources, reports Reuters.
Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob this week called on Al Jazeera to apologise to Malaysians and said allegations of racism and discrimination against undocumented migrants were untrue.
Authorities had previously defended the arrests as necessary to uphold the law and stem the spread of the pandemic.
On Monday, Immigration Director-General Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud warned that foreign nationals who make inaccurate statements aimed at "damaging Malaysia's image" will face possible revocation of their passes.
Khairul said the Al Jazeera documentary on immigration operations during the movement control order was inaccurate, pointing out that the Malaysian government had provided free treatment to 773 foreigners in immigration depots who tested positive for Covid-19 and had been praised by foreign embassies for doing so.
Malaysia is home to more than two million foreign workers and an estimated four million undocumented migrants. In total, there are about eight lakh Bangladeshis.
However, fraudulence, exploitation by employers as well as recruiting agents and brokers are some of the common problems the migrants face.