Published: 02 July 2015
Minister Masagos met Malaysia's Minister of Home Affairs Dato' Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the sidelines of Emergency AMMTC
Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Mr Masagos Zulkifli attended the Emergency ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) concerning the irregular movement of persons in the Southeast Asia Region held in Kuala Lumpur on 2 July 2015. He was accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. The meeting was attended by AMMTC Ministers or their representatives overseeing the issues of people smuggling and human trafficking in their respective jurisdictions.
2. At the meeting, Minister Masagos said that the boat people issue was a complex one which involved people smuggling and human trafficking syndicates preying on vulnerable persons who were seeking opportunities for better lives for themselves and their families. He added that tough action should be taken against these syndicates, which were exploitative and ruthless in their treatment of those who fall into their clutches, and have no qualms forsaking the lives of these people at the first sign of law enforcement pressure. Source countries had to also do their part to reduce factors that pushed people to take risky ventures and fall victim to human trafficking syndicates.
3. Minister Masagos noted that people smuggling and trafficking were not isolated problems for Myanmar and ASEAN to resolve, but a transnational phenomenon. A global effort by all countries – regardless of whether they were source, transit or destination countries – was necessary to break the vicious cycle of exploitation. In this regard, Minister Masagos said that ASEAN could play a more active role in developing a holistic approach and coordinating the efforts of ASEAN Member States. The Emergency AMMTC was a good example of ASEAN Member States coming together at short notice to discuss practical measures to tackle issues that the ASEAN Community faced. ASEAN has been coordinating an intergovernmental approach and is expected to sign the ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP) and the ASEAN Plan of Action (APA) to implement ACTIP at the ASEAN Summit in November 2015. The ACTIP and APA will enable ASEAN to better coordinate and tackle the issues of people smuggling and trafficking.
4. At the Emergency AMMTC, Minister Masagos also proposed that ASEAN establish a trust fund to be administered by the ASEAN Secretariat for voluntary contributions from ASEAN Member States and members of the international community to support the humanitarian and relief efforts.
5. Minister Masagos said: "We are glad that ASEAN has shown support for the establishment of a trust fund. Such a trust fund would demonstrate that ASEAN is responding to the challenges posed by the irregular movement of people in the region in a multi-faceted way. Singapore has committed an initial sum of US$200,000 to this trust fund through ASEAN to assist in these humanitarian and relief efforts and is prepared to consider further assistance if there are specific requests."
6. In concluding the meeting, the Emergency AMMTC issued a Chairman's Statement to reinforce ASEAN Member States' commitment to the fight against people smuggling and human trafficking.
Ministry of Home Affairs
2 July 2015