Aslam Abd Jalil is a Malaysian human rights advocate who is passionate about defending the rights of migrants and refugees. He recently visited the DTP Secretariat in Sydney, and was pleased to share his memories of his DTP training in Malaysia on the rights of migrant workers.
“The DTP training program was the best. It shaped the direction of my career. I became more passionate about research and advocacy for the rights of migrant workers and refugees.”
According to the World Bank, Malaysia has 2.9 to 3.3 million migrant workers, making a vital contribution to Malaysia’s economy. Of this number, approximately 1.5 million are undocumented making them more vulnerable to abuse and denying them the protection of the law.
Aslam became more aware of the marginalisation that migrant workers and refugees face in Malaysia when he started attending university for his undergraduate studies. Aslam said that the DTP training helped him understand and gain more knowledge about Malaysia’s refugee and labor rights situation.
“It was a great training space to expand my professional network, and I got to know many resourceful human rights advocates and civil society actors. Through that training, I have built a good rapport with other Malaysian human rights advocates who work on the rights of migrants and refugees. It was a valuable training for me.”
Aslam decided to embark on PhD studies in Australia – focusing on the contemporary challenges of forced migration. Now he wants to apply his perspective to focus on the situation of migrants, refugees and non-citizens in Malaysia to help them get better protection so that they can survive and thrive. Aslam is now set to join the International Institute of Public Policy and Management (INPUMA) at the University of Malaya following the successful completion of his PhD.
“Being a Malay Muslim man, I am very privileged in Malaysia as Malaysian society is hierarchical, according to which group you belong to. Migrants and refugees contribute to Malaysia positively and yet face structural discrimination. I hope to use my privilege to advocate for a policy change and will work to create awareness in the society.”
Aslam suggests that DTP should consider devising human rights training programs for undergraduate students to create the next generation of human rights advocates.