On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Probe on claims of Indian IT workers

According to some of those arrested, they were
handcuffed, manhandled and some of their visas defaced by police and
immigration personnel. The alleged shoddy treatment of these Indian workers has
been given prominent, if not emotional, treatment by the Indian press.

There have even been calls to take a range of retaliatory measures against
Malaysia in protest against the alleged ill-treatment of the 270 Indian

According to the Indian media reports, the Indian Government was reviewing a
bilateral civil aviation treaty signed some years ago and cleared by the
Federal Cabinet this January.

The spat between India and Malaysia could also affect tariff concessions on
Malaysian palm oil exports, of which India is a major importer.

The Indian media have good reason to be upset but they should not go overboard,
let alone instigate and make matters worse.

It will be inaccurate to suggest that there is a row between Malaysia and

What has happened is an unfortunate incident involving the arrest of Indian
nationals by the police and immigration who may have over-reacted. The Indian
nationals have had their say, which was reported by the Malaysian media.

The Home and Foreign ministries have correctly started investigating the matter
by getting the officers involved to answer these allegations. If they had acted
unfairly, then punishment must be meted against the culprits.

There can be no excuse for over-zealous officers carrying out their duties
beyond their powers, not just against Indian nationals but everyone, including

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar was correct in saying that
Malaysia viewed the complaints seriously and would inform the Indian Government
of its findings.

However, Veena Sikri said Syed Hamid's remarks ''did not provide answers'' and
that she was not happy with the police for not allowing her consular officers
access to the detained workers.

In all fairness to Syed Hamid, he needs all the facts on his table before he
can make any comments on the allegations. For that, a full investigation must
first be carried out to ascertain the truth.

Entrepreneur Minister Datuk Nazri Abdul Aziz reportedly had an earful from two
Indian ministers when he flew into New Delhi last Tuesday. He told the Indian
reporters that there was no deliberate policy against Indian nationals and
promised that action would be taken against those responsible.

The raid at the Brickfields condominium is said to have followed complaints
from the public over allegations of foreigners with forged travel documents in
the area. But, according to reports, these were not ordinary manual workers but
professionals with technical expertise.

Whether these foreigners are professionals or ordinary labourers, they are
guests of Malaysia and deserve to be treated properly.

The matter has been given attention by Acting Prime Minister Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, so India can rest assured that the episode would not be
swept under the carpet.

The police have received plenty of bad press over the arrest of the Indian
nationals and they must now quickly complete their investigations and publicise
their findings.