Imposing charge for migrants taking PJ city buses is blatant discrimination
5 January 2022
We refer to the MBPJ and Selangor government’s decision that migrants taking the PJ City Bus will be imposed a RM0.90 fee starting from January 15th 2023.
It is appalling that MBPJ has decided to impose this abhorrent policy on what is supposed to be a free public transportation service. Jay Jay Denis, the special officer to the Selangor Menteri Besar, has responded by assuring that the fare is “not meant to be discriminatory” assuring that that the RM0.90 fare is not for profit as it does not even cover the cost of the service. However, this begs the question on why such discriminatory fare would need to be imposed in the first place on the poorest users such as migrant workers.
There is no good reason why they should not be able to benefit from the free bus service offered. The imposition of this fare upon migrants is irrational and arbitrary. Hence, this act is tantamount to bigotry, plain and simple. This is also implicit in the remarks by the Selangor MB’s aide in which he stressed that the priority for the PJ City Bus is for Malaysians, as if the migrants are mooching of the Malaysian taxpayers, a narrative often used to justify discriminatory policies against migrants.
It is an undeniable fact that migrant workers are the backbone of our country, being an essential part of many of our critical industries. Not only are they integral to the development of our country but they also contribute to our taxes and economy. In fact, according to Irene Xavier of Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, the 2022 budget estimated that RM1.7 billion will be collected from migrant workers that year.
A significant portion of the migrant community do jobs that Malaysian will not take up, for less pay and under harsh conditions to the point that they often fall victim to labour exploitation. The fare discrimination is emblematic of a larger problem of discrimination suffered by this vulnerable group at the hands of the authority. Xenophobia must not be a part of any government policy, both at the state and federal level, especially by the PH-led Selangor government, a coalition whose political platform promises reform.
We thus demand that the PH-led Selangor government retract the planned discriminatory fare for migrants and avoid further discrimination of migrant workers through policies, acts or specific decisions.
Lawyers for Liberty