Friday, September 6, 2013

Malaysia intends to track migrant workers like 'criminals' by inserting RFID in ID cards


RFID in Identity Cards - tracking Migrant Workers like cattle and criminals is unacceptable - will soon all Workers, Malaysians also be deprived their privacy?
Now, Malaysian government is seriously going to infringe the privacy of migrant workers (and maybe later Malaysians too) with the introduction of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) into their identity cards. That means their movement can be tracked as though they as though they are cattle or criminals.

A total of 1.4 million Bangladeshi workers, scheduled to be recruited in stages from early next year, will be issued special identity cards (IC). 

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the ICs would have Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and biometric technology, and would function as a debit card and stored-value card (such as Touch & Go).

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)


RFID tags, a technology once limited to tracking cattle, are tracking consumer products worldwide. Many manufacturers use the tags to track the location of each product they make from the time it's made until it's pulled off the shelf and tossed in a shopping cart.

Outside the realm of retail merchandise, RFID tags are tracking vehicles, airline passengers, Alzheimer's patients and pets. ...the noncommercial uses of RFID tags and how the Departments of State and Homeland Security are using them. Lastly, we'll examine what some critics consider an Orwellian application of RFID tags in animals, humans and our society. - Wikipedia

Malaysia also announced that they will soon be using electronic monitoring device (EMD) on suspects - this also is unacceptable because a person is innocent until proven guilty. Maybe, it may be acceptable as a 'new' bail condition, that too should be restricted to serious and violent crimes only and a for a limited short period only, for trials should be speedily held - if not, it will be abused and be akin a 'punishment without trial' where people may be simply charged and held on bail indefinitely. We really need a criminal compensation scheme in place so persons can be compensated for loss of liberty and other freedoms, if their charge is subsequently withdrawn, found not guilty, ... The other category of persons maybe those let out earlier on parole - i.e. earlier than their prison sentence by reason of good behavior - and that too maybe for serious and violent crimes only. As it is ex-convicts are already facing discrimination and hurdles to re-integrate into society resulting in many returning to their ways of crime by reason of no other choice.

The Home Ministry plans to use the electronic monitoring device (EMD) on offenders charged under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 by end of next month. 

Attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail confirmed that the government had approved the use of EMDs to track organised and violent crime suspects to ensure they would not commit other crimes while out on bail.- Malaysiakini, 24/8/2013, Electronic monitoring device to be implemented in Sept

EMD and this RFID may be different devices/technology but their intent is the same, to track people and their movement. There was some talk before that our new MyKad may have been something similar to RFID - maybe some MP should ask that question in Parliament to just make us all feel safe, and that our privacy is not being infringed by our government.

In any event, migrant workers should never be treated LESS - they are human beings. They are workers - and they should not be treated like some product in a supermarket, cattle or like criminals (or suspected criminals).

What happens to migrant workers today may soon be happening to LOCAL workers later - then maybe even all Malaysians. The 'contractor for labour system' which erodes direct employment relationship between the worker and the owner/operator of the workplace(principal), weakens unions, erodes worker rights, etc... started out with Migrant Workers around 2005 - but today LOCAL workers are also victims of this very unjust system.

We have to protest these plans by the Malaysian government which undermine human dignity, freedoms ...and yes, the right to personal privacy.



Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.


PUTRAJAYA: A total of 1.4 million Bangladeshi workers, scheduled to be recruited in stages from early next year, will be issued special identity cards (IC). 

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the ICs would have Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and biometric technology, and would function as a debit card and stored-value card (such as Touch & Go). 

"The cards would be colour coordinated to indicate different employment sectors to prevent the workers from switching jobs," he told reporters after a courtesy call from Bangladesh Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain here on Thursday. 

He said the workers would be screened to ensure that they had no prior criminal records before being recruited and those found moving sectors would be fined up to RM12,000. 

"One of the issues discussed was temporary housing for the workers, so they will be taken care of and to prevent assimilation problems with locals," said Ahmad Zahid. 

He said the Bangladesh workers' entry had been agreed during Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein's term as Home Minister, to cater to the shortage of workers in the plantation and services sectors. 

"They will be brought in under a government-to-government agreement to prevent exploitation by middlemen. 

"We're also discussing the same approach with other countries such as Indonesia and Myanmar," he said.

Meanwhile, Khandker said the government-to-government deal would reduce cost from US$4,000 (RM13,284) to US$400 (RM1,328) per worker.

"Before this, they had to work four to five years to repay the cost due to exploitation by middlemen, but now they can settle the amount in two months," he said. - Bernama - Star, 22/8/2013, Ahmad Zahid: Bangladeshi workers to get special IC