PETALING JAYA: The war against human trafficking in Malaysia has found support from an unlikely source – higher education institutions.
Five colleges and universities have pledged to implement anti-human trafficking procedures as part of R.AGE’s Students Against Trafficking campaign.
R.AGE’s Student/Trafficked online video series exposed a network of human traffickers using bogus colleges and student visas to exploit victims.
“We look at the issue of student trafficking very seriously,” said University Malaysia of Computer Science & Engineering (UniMY) vice-chancellor Prof Dr Khairuddin Abdul Hamid.
“Breaking the trust of students and parents is damaging, not just to the institution’s image, but also to Malaysia’s image as a regional education hub.”
The term “student trafficking” was coined by R.AGE to describe how international students were being brought into the country for profit, and was first used in its documentary series Student/Trafficked.
The other institutions that have pledged their support are HELP University, HELP Academy, Tunku Abdul Rahman University College and Sunway University.
“We definitely support your campaign because trafficking humans is one of the biggest sins on earth,” said Sunway Education Group senior executive director Dr Elizabeth Lee.
“(The number of student trafficking victims) is alarming, and it’s not going down. I really applaud you young people for coming together and doing something about it.”
Colleges and universities can pledge their support on social media, following anti-trafficking procedures that were developed by R.AGE with the support of the Higher Education Ministry, and organising anti-trafficking forums on campus.
Students Against Trafficking also received public support on social media from Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.
“The ministry calls upon all universities and colleges to support this campaign. [...] We must be mindful that there are certain quarters taking advantage of international students – this is not only illegal, it’s also immoral. It must stop,” he posted.
Despite this strong show of support, some 300 higher education institutions have yet to pledge to Students Against Trafficking.
“It’s our moral duty to protect young people. We cannot claim to be an education institution and call ourselves educationists if we violate the human rights of another person,” said Datuk Dr Paul Chan, vice-chancellor and president of HELP University, who called on his fellow educationists to support the campaign.
“There is no excuse for any institution to support the trafficking of students. It is ethically wrong.”
R.AGE is encouraging students to help petition their institutions to support the campaign.
Students can take part at the Students Against Trafficking website (rage.my/FightTrafficking), which allows them to generate an online petition poster addressed to their respective college/university.
Institutions will then be given an online rating (Tier 1-3) depending on how well they implement the guidelines.
“Students are best placed to stop student trafficking,” said R.AGE deputy executive editor and producer Ian Yee.
“This is an opportunity for them to exercise their right to be heard, and help ensure their campuses aren’t being used for trafficking.”