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Malaysia probing Al Jazeera documentary on migrants

Officials decry Al Jazeera documentary as misleading and unfair

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police yesterday said they will summon reporters of news broadcaster Al Jazeera for questioning over a documentary on the country's arrests of undocumented migrants, which the authorities have accused of being an attempt to tarnish Malaysia's image.

Locked Up In Malaysia's Lockdown, produced by the Qatar-based station's 101 East news programme, focused on the plight of undocumented migrants detained during raids carried out in areas under tight coronavirus lockdown.

The documentary, which aired last week, sparked an immediate backlash online while several officials decried the report as being inaccurate, misleading and unfair.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob this week called on Al Jazeera to apologise to Malaysians and said the allegations of racism and discrimination against undocumented migrants were untrue.

The authorities had previously defended the arrests of the migrants as necessary to uphold the law and stem the spread of the pandemic.

Police will call in Al Jazeera staff as part of a probe opened after several complaints filed against the documentary, Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said yesterday.

"It is the police's responsibility to investigate to see if there are any elements of sedition or wrongdoing," he said, according to a video of his comments posted by news portal Malaysia Gazette.

Al Jazeera did not respond to a request for comment.

Separately yesterday, Malaysia's Immigration Department issued a search notice for a Bangladeshi national whose name, details and photos match those of a migrant worker interviewed in the documentary.

Malaysia recorded six new cases yesterday, bringing the total number of infections to 8,674. The death toll remains at 121.

Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said four of the cases were imported.

The remaining two new cases were locally transmitted and involved Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

The Philippines lifted the restrictions on non-essential outbound travel yesterday.

"All travel restrictions relative to outbound travel of Filipinos are lifted," presidential spokesman Harry Roque told a televised media briefing.

But he said Filipinos have to fulfil certain conditions before they can leave, Xinhua reported.

These include confirmed round-trip tickets for those travelling as tourists and making sure they have complied with entry requirements of the destination and are allowed to enter.

When they return, they must take a swab test and a mandatory facility-based quarantine.

The Philippines has 47,873 confirmed cases, including 1,309 deaths.

Indonesia yesterday reported 1,268 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 66,226.

There were 68 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 3,309. - REUTERS, THE STAR

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