Malaysia

Why spray migrants with disinfectant, say MPs



A video clip widely circulated online shows disinfectant being sprayed on migrants detained in Cyberjaya. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Two opposition MPs have questioned immigration authorities over the use of a disinfectant spray on undocumented migrants, calling the practice “inhumane” and “degrading”.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii urged the authorities to explain the reason for the actions, captured in a video clip showing disinfectant being sprayed over the hands and heads of arrested people sitting on the floor in groups.

“If they want to disinfect anyone, whether it is a migrant or Malaysian citizen, we must treat them with some respect, not make them sit on the ground and spray disinfectant on them as if they are animals,” he said.

Yii told FMT that the Covid-19 virus was more likely to spread through airborne transmission of respiratory droplets. Sanitising of buildings had done little to curb the spread of the virus what more on human beings, he said.

The video clip was about 156 undocumented migrants detained at an illegal settlement in Cyberjaya.

Immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying that Dettol had been used, for disinfection purposes, and that he and other immigration officers were also sprayed down.

However, Yii said the World Health Organization had advised against disinfecting individuals as being physically and psychologically harmful as Dettol may cause irritation to the eyes and skin, or even gastro-intestinal issues if it was accidentally ingested.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said it was illogical and “strategically wrong” to go after undocumented migrants at a time when the country should be focusing on managing the pandemic.

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He said spraying Dettol on an individual was ineffective and the priority should be on vaccinating and testing migrants instead.

“They caught 156 people last night, but there are four to five million of these people in the country. How many people can they catch?” he asked.

Santiago also said the act of detaining undocumented migrants would only push the rest of the community to go into hiding.

“You won’t be able to test or vaccinate them, and they might reappear in the future with the virus. This is not rocket science.”



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