The agency wanted her to lodge a report and sit through another round of questioning, which she refused to oblige.

PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) this morning completed a two-hour long interview with Tenaganita executive director, Irene Fernandez, over her recent remarks of alleged corruption in Malaysia’s employment of migrant workers.

But the interview took an unexpected turn when the two MACC officials questioning Fernandez told her that she had to also file a report with the agency and sit through another round of questioning without her lawyer present.

Both Fernandez and her lawyer, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri of Lawyers for Liberty, refused to oblige and further challenged the intention to disallow Fadiah’s presence.

“I was very clear of my purpose in meeting the MACC,” Fernandez told reporters after the interview.  “The letter it sent on Wednesday clarified that I was required to provide details on my statements and I agreed to the interview on that basis alone.”

Fadiah meanwhile was told that if she insisted on being present during the next round of questioning, then the MACC would take her statement to which she refused consent.

“I didn’t come with the understanding that I would be lodging a report and I stood my ground,” Fernandez said. “The officials checked with “higher authorities” and eventually aborted the plan.”

According to Fernandez, the officials had asked whether she agreed that corruption existed in the employment of migrant workers in Malaysia, to which she answered in the affirmative.

She then outlined six such instances which included the 6P programme that has left over 1 million registered migrant workers still in the dark over their status.

Fernandez pointed out that in most cases the employers concerned had colluded with police who either arrested migrant workers who filed police reports or made no arrests during a raid on the employers’ premises.

Neutral line of questioning

She also spoke of Rela personnel and enforcement authorities who refused to produce identification when interrogating migrant workers and instead assaulted or robbed them.

“I told the MACC officials that I hoped they use their intelligence units to really look into the issues that I have raised,” Fernandez added.

“And I also said that the MACC must critically review its existing system and mechanism that enables corruption and plug the weaknesses. It must be pro-active.”

Fernandez pointed out that one area that needed serious attention was the link between human trafficking and corruption, and she urged the MACC to study the indicators of how the latter gives rise to the former.

“They said they will look at the information I have provided them and I really hope they do so otherwise I have just wasted two hours of my time,” she quipped.

Fadiah later told FMT that while the officials had attempted to intimidate Fernandez in the beginning, they later pursued a neutral line of questioning and let her off without issuing a summons.

“So far there has been no indication that she will be summoned to give a statement but let’s see what happens in the next week,” she said.

Fernandez came under fire after she was quoted by The Jakarta Post on Monday as saying that some Malaysian employers have resorted to “paying the police” or “buying court verdicts” to ensure no action is taken against them.

She later said that she had been misquoted by the daily which subsequently agreed to print corrections to its article.

By Stephanie Sta Maria | May 11, 2012