A FOREIGN diplomat raised an important question on our, or rather, the country’s humanity.
Swiss ambassador Michael Winzap was horrified with the lack of public outcry over the death of an Indonesian domestic worker.
Adelina Lisao, 26, died in hospital due to multiple-organ failure brought about by severe physical abuse by her employer.
While Winzap screamed slavery, we chose silence.
But are abuse of domestic help and human slavery new to Malaysia?
Remember Nirmala Bonat? The court ordered her employers, a husband and wife, to pay a meagre RM10,000 compensation in 2014 for inflicting injuries on her breasts, back, arms, head, face, mouth and nose, besides the emotional stress.
Her employers placed hot iron on her breasts and back. The abuse started in 2004.
We have had just one too many of such cases from then on. Indonesia has rescinded their travel ban to domestic helpers numerous times, only to impose it gain when more cases of abusive Malaysian employers come to light.
Thousands of migrant workers continue to work under slave-like conditions in the country.
Verité, in its 2014 report, interviewed 501 workers in Malaysia’s electronics industry and found that 28% of them were coerced under both global standards and Malaysian law.
As much as 40% of Malaysia’s workforce is made up of migrant workers and most of them face exploitation, poor living conditions, curtailed freedom and harassment.
Most of us wouldn’t have forgotten Lokesh Sapalinga, a 27-year-old Indian national, whose harrowing escape from a slavery ring made headlines.
He was paid RM20 and held captive under squalid conditions in a factory in Sarawak.
We don’t just abuse our domestic helpers and migrant workers, but also the poor, the disenfranchised and the marginalised, such as the LGBT community.
We can sit in front of a UN body and lie about “equal treatment” to the LGBT community when the reality is starkly different and appalling.
T. Nhaveen, an 18-year-old boy from Penang, died of his injuries last year.
He was declared brain dead following severe physical and sexual assault by a group of boys who continuously bullied him for “being soft”.
The brutal killing of a 27-year-old transgender woman, Sameera Krishnan, shook the nation.
She was attacked with a knife and received slash wounds to her hands, arm, head and legs. Sameera was also shot up to three times.
But the police said it wasn’t a hate crime.
Our newspaper published a “how to spot a gay” checklist, while the Prime Minister, Najib Razak, calls them a threatening “deviant culture”.
The rights of the Orang Asli or indigenous communities continue to be trampled on. Their land is forcefully taken away for development and they end up being abused and prosecuted if they fight back.
There is a widespread lack of access to medical care and education for indigenous communities.
We now see a dramatic increase in crime, including sexual and physical abuse against children.
So, is it any surprise that a foreign diplomat was forced to speak his mind?
And when would we, as citizens, rise against such atrocities? When would we stand up and fight for ourselves and others? When would we become so infuriated like Winzap, that we band together to put a stop to such injustice?
If we don’t do it now, we never will. And all of us should hold ourselves responsible for having failed to protect those who are less fortunate than us. – February 23, 2018.
* Charles Santiago is Klang MP from DAP. He reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.