ATIPSOM: Old and new media should work in-tandem to educate public

Welcoming Remarks by MPI’s Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Dr. Chamil Wariya at the Workshop on Human Trafficking organized by MPI, the Embassy of the United States of America and Majlis Anti Pemerdagangan Orang dan Anti Penyeludupan Migran (MAPO), Ministry of Home Affairs Malaysia in Kuching, Sarawak April 7 – 9 2015.

Selamat datang dan selamat pagi kepada semua hadiran ke Bengkel Pelaporan Anti Pemerdagangan Orang dan anti penyeludupan migran yang akan bermula sebentar lagi.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media, Ministry of Home Affairs, the state government of Sarawak and the Embassy of the United States.

This is the fifth workshop held on Human Trafficking organized by MPI, the Embassy of the United States in Kuala Lumpur and Majlis Anti Pemerdagangan Orang (MAPO), the Ministry of Home Affairs Malaysia.

The first was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2011, the second in 2012 at  Kota Kinabalu, the third in Kota Baharu in 2013, the fifth in 2014 at Johor Baharu, and now in Kuching, Sarawak.

With this workshop, some 100 journalists have already taken part since we commenced the series in 2011.

I am pleased to say that the Journalism Workshop on the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (ATIPSOM) held here in Kuching from 7th until 9th  April 2015 received overwhelming response from the Malaysian media practitioners.

Some 42 journalists, representing 21 media organizations in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak and the Republic of Indonesia will participate in the workshop held for the fifth year running since the 2011, which will begin shortly.

The Borneo Post sent the most journalists – six for the workshop. Other participants consist of four journalists from See Hua Daily and four from Bernama. AL-Hijrah  Media Group and RTM Sarawak, respectively, sent three people. Five media organizations, namely Sin Chew Daily Kuching, New Sarawak Tribune, the Sarawak Information Department, Kosmo! and Utusan Borneo each sent two journalists respectively.

Three news people from Indonesia, I believe, are also participating in this ATIPSOM workshop. They represent three major media organizations in Jakarta, namely Rakyat Merdeka , Kompas TV and Forum Keadilan.

Various topics directly relating to trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants will be dealt with in this three-day workshop.

In the first session just now, Mia Barret of International Organization for Migration (IOM), based in Bangkok had shared her experiences with the participants on how media can support human trafficking awareness campaigns.

Visiting Professor Salleh Buang of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) will talk about the legal and ethical reporting related to ATIPSOM.

The role of public agencies in addressing ATIPSOM will be analysed by Encik Pius  Anak Inggong from MAPO; Deputy Supt. A. J Michael from the ATIPSOM Unit, Federal Police Headquarters, Bukit Aman, Muhamad Iskandar Ahmad, Senior Federal Prosecutor, the Attorney General’s Department Sarawak and Elisabeth Socolow, political officer of the US Embassy, Kuala Lumpur will give an insight of the American perspective of ATIPSOM.

Two journalists will also share their experience covering ATIPSOM with the participants.

They are Senior Editor Consulting and Legal Affairs, The Star newspaper, Mr. T.Selva and Chief Cameraman TV3 News and Current Affairs Sabah/Sarawak, Mohd Yazzer Mahmun.

The Manager of an ATIPSOM shelter home in Sarawak, Mrs. Janis Ba-I will share her experience of taking care of people who are victims of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.

Tours arranged by the Sarawak Police and the state  Immigration Department to Tebedu, where the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons often occur are also in the schedule on the second day of the workshop.

The Sarawak Police Commissioner, Senior DCP Datuk Seri Muhammad Sabtu Othman is expected to close the workshop on April 9 and present certificates of participation to those attending.

I would like to thank all parties – public and private – as well as media organisations and speakers from at home and abroad for their contributions to the success of the fifth ATIPSOM Journalism Workshop.

Special thanks to the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur which funded the workshop and MAPO who helped in organizing the workshop since the beginning.

Thank you Encik Pius Anak Inggong, Principal Assistant Secretary of MAPO, representing the Senior Deputy Secretary General (Security) Ministry of Home Affairs Malaysia who will be launching the workshop shortly. Also a warm thank you to Mr. Edgard D. Kagan, deputy chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur for his presence this morning.

We hope that the ATIPSOM workshop in Kuching, like the four workshops held previously, will raise awareness among media practitioners on issues related to trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants occurring now in this country.

I am optimistic the media will continue to give widespread publicity and news broadcast about ATIPSOM that would raise awareness among the public, so that we can oppose the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons which is regarded as modern-day slavery.

I am quite encouraged by the results, as since the first ATIPSOM workshop organized in 2011, this event in Kuching received very promising response from news organizations in terms of participation.

I believe the presence of journalists from the Republic of Indonesia will give an added dimension on the same issue from the perspective of a neighbouring country. This is because the republic also shares a border with Sarawak, an area where rampant smuggling occurs.

At a workshop held in Johor Bharu in 2014, five journalists of the Republic of Singapore also participated.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Malaysia is a destination, and to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for women and children subjected to human trafficking activities, in particular, those linked to forced prostitution and forced labour.

Malaysia was placed on Tier 2 of the Watch List of the U.S Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report for a second consecutive year in 2011 and in subsequent years, Malaysia’s position deteriorated.

This was for not fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking although it did make significant efforts to comply with those standards.

There have been many studies identifying the causes of Malaysia’s human trafficking and the reasons why the government has not been entirely successful in addressing human trafficking problem in this country. Most of the research showed that the authorities are struggling to curb the practice and bring the masterminds to book.

The gist of it is that Malaysia is a magnet for people from littoral states and beyond who yearn for a better life, but we, in a way, have become victims of our own success.

The findings revealed that the root cause of the government’s lack of success in curbing and eradicating human trafficking has much to do with the fact that trafficking agents or syndicates at times were able to operate under the guise of legitimate employment agencies.

There are also other restrictions such as border problems hampering proper and adequate monitoring of certain strategic and crucial sites. It was also found that the government’s use of conventional media to educate the masses on the dangers of human trafficking has its limitation in delivering the desired results, thus pointing the way for the use of new media – social media in particular – to complement the public education effort.

Although various institutional measures have been taken by the government to address this issue such as the establishment of MAPO and the National Action Plan for Trafficking in Persons (2010-2015) the government would now need to push the frontier by mobilizing the new media, working in tandem with the traditional media.

In the era of globalization and information technology, access for and diffusion of new information has become easier. Hence, new media, together with the old media, should be used to enlighten the public, especially the younger generation, so as not to get involved in human trafficking activities.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen and selamat berbengkel.