Little Africa in the making
JULY 13 — The home minister must be proud of himself for successfully making this country home to so many foreigners.
The Nigerians, Sudanese, Somalians, Iranians are going about their business like they would in their country. Not a day goes by without us seeing one of them in the news.
The Star on July 3, 2012 reported about a Nigerian drug mule who was arrested at the LCCT with 400 grammes of syabu capsules with a street value of RM98,000. And in November last year 76 people were nabbed in a massive operation to clean up “African scams.” Police had apparently received 945 reports from January to October 2011 over con jobs that included parcel scams, black money, inheritance swindles and black magic which mostly involved African nationals.
Nine-hundred-and-forty-five reports in 304 days, which translates into an average of three cases per day.
Bukit Aman commercial crime investigation deputy director SAC Datuk Rodwan Mohd Yusof said in November last year and I quote: “The crimes involving African scams are getting serious in the country, with more people falling prey to them. Most African nationals entered the country on student visas.”
No kidding, Sherlock.
It boggles my mind as to how easy they obtained their visas. Whether the so-called students were thoroughly investigated, interviewed or whether our officials practised their infamous “tidak apa” attitude during the whole process remains a big question mark.
Our porous gatekeepers aside, many of our private colleges are also using African students to market their institutions as “international.” These so-called “international” colleges are only diverse when it comes to African countries. Take a gander around the private colleges in Nilai, KL and I assure you the feel you get is anything but international or even Malaysian for that matter.
Tertiary centres should work hand in glove with the Home Ministry and immigration officers by reporting these troublemakers instead of accommodating them. But how many of these colleges are serious in doing so when the students keep paying their tuition fees?
In the days of NFC and PKFZ, how many of them actually put the nation’s interest before their insatiable appetite for money?
Have you tried Googling “how to apply for a Malaysian student visa”, and come across websites that promise approvals within five weeks of application by connecting individuals to the “right” agencies?
No? Here, let me help you get one.
Our law enforcers are also found wanting. Why can’t we close these colleges down, or at least suspend them for a few years?
Maybe a simple demerit system for colleges, where points are deducted for every unreported, fake student found, and points awarded after every year without such incidents? Punishment should be in line with the accumulated points with those falling short below a certain level facing suspension and eventually closure.
PTPTN should also censure these errant colleges.
Don’t you think colleges will then adopt a more careful approach in enrolling students from overseas when they see such punishments meted out?
I agree that it is sometimes difficult for colleges to differentiate the genuine students from the rest, but something is wrong when they keep making similar mistakes time and again. Such occurrences cannot be treated as a coincidence until proven otherwise.
And while we are on the subject of punishments, can we instil some sense of responsibility in our officials in the Home Ministry, by tracing every abused, ill-gotten visa back to them? The one who interviewed, approved these student visas should be subjected to a thorough investigation, and any punishment meted out should be publicised as a deterrent to others.
Unless we are still naive enough to think these criminals posing as students actually went through our strict, no-nonsense, corruption-free vetting system before being awarded a visa into the country?
Come on, get real.
Bernama News reported on the May 19, 2012 about the plan to form a committee of African and Malaysian university vice-chancellors, to collaborate in a programme to enhance bilateral and educational ties.
I wonder how else to enhance our excellent educational ties. Perhaps the government should look instead into reasons as to why we are very attractive to the Africans and less attractive to other students. Didn’t one minister declare that we have an educational system envied by the world?
I have no problems with our country accepting genuine African students but our Home Ministry must be alert and vigilant when guarding our borders against impostors, especially those who pose a threat to the security and well-being of our country.
Because at the moment, these colleges are hatcheries and the Home Ministry the architects that mould the making of a Little Africa within our already divided nation of 1 Malaysia.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.