After lawmakers placed restrictions on the Fast Track bill that prohibit the US from making fast track trade agreements with countries ranked as tier-three on the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, Malaysia was upgraded from that lowest rating. “This clearly political decision undermines the credibility of important anti-trafficking efforts and underscores the fact that the Obama administration is perfectly willing to abandon workers to pursue its trade agenda,” says AFL-CIO political blogger Charlie Fanning.
An upgrade on the TIP report should signify progress in curbing human trafficking, but in the case of Malaysia, where trafficking is a major black market industry, labor and human rights groups say this is not the case. Malaysian officials frequently line their pockets or turn a blind eye to pervasive exploitation. Most of Malaysia’s victims are among the country’s 4 million migrant workers (40% of its workforce) who work in industries such as varied as electronics, agriculture, domestics, and the garment sectors.
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal accused Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak of pocketing more than $700 million in public funds. The regime’s history of corruption and anti-transparency greatly undermines any promises made regarding human trafficking.