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Covid-19: Doctor who screened illegal immigrants rebuts Al-Jazeera

Dr Kenneth Wong Chen Fei was one the medical officer stationed at a detention centre where thousands of illegal immigrants were screened for possible infection of Covid-19.

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – June 7, 2020: A doctor who helped screened hundreds of illegal immigrants during the Covid-19 lockdown has refuted an Al-Jazeera documentary highlighting what was supposed to be Malaysia’s racist practices.

Dr Kenneth Wong Chen Fei argued that the media outlet had made false claims against Malaysia in regard to the poor treatment and management of illegal immigrants, particularly those who were tested for Covid-19.

“All of them were treated fairly and well. We respect them as normal human beings. Three meals per day. Each meal has vegetables, meat and rice. Nice bed with air conditioning. They were given free toiletry, towels and dry food,” wrote Dr Wong on Facebook.

Dr Wong, who was stationed at a quarantine centre in Serdang, added that his team has treated up to 800 illegal immigrants who had been infected with the virus in the span of one month.

“A single test costs between RM300 and RM400. Everything was borne by the Malaysian government. What more do they want? The report is inaccurate and one-sided. We stand with the Ministry of Health and Malaysia for doing the best in fighting the pandemic,” he wrote.

Al-Jazeera’s documentary, Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown, – filmed at several places here was first published last Friday.

It gained notoriety mostly due to a remark by reporter Drew Ambrose that goes: “when you look at these raids you can’t help but to think is this the practical reality of dealing with a pandemic? Or is it racism?”

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has denied the claim of mistreatment, unfair detention, and racist enforcement as mentioned in the documentary.

“They accused us of being racist but what we do is based on the law. I challenge them to point out a country which gives freedom to illegal immigrants,” said Ismail at the daily Covid-19 press conference yesterday.

Also, under spotlight was one of the immigrants featured in the documentary, a Bangladeshi named Md Rahyan Kabir, who told Al-Jazeera that his quarantined friends were badly treated.

The Immigration Department today issued a wanted notice for Md Rahyan, stating that he is being investigated under the Immigration Act while the police have initiated a probe on Al-Jazeera over its “derogatory” report.

So far, a total of 4,924 undocumented foreigners have been screened for Covid-19; 777 of them were found positive and sent to a treatment centre.

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Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.