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Here are your rights as a migrant worker in Malaysia

over 4 years ago Matdura S.





This article is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to be used or construed as legal advice in any manner whatsoever. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.



If you are stopped by any Malaysian Enforcement Authority, there are certain rules and regulations that you and the authorities must follow. Here’s a guide on what to do during arrest and detention, along with your rights as a migrant worker in Malaysia. 


1. Carry your original documents with you

Carry your passport or UNCHR card with you. Make sure it is the original document. If your passport is at immigration for renewal, carry a photocopy and a letter from your employer explaining the reason.

If stopped by the authorities, introduce yourself and explain why you are in Malaysia (work or leisure purpose). If the authority is a police officer, take note of:

  • The officer’s name/number
  • The type of uniform worn by the officer(s) – (this is to check which authority is involved)


2. If you are stopped by the police

Any enforcement officer can stop you in public. Arrests would normally be done by police officers. Only in some circumstances, the Head of the village has power to arrest you. 

Ask them politely why they are arresting you.

Ask politely for identification (Police Card).

Blue card ranks are for inspector and above.

Red card means the Officer is suspended and has no authority over you. (In this situation, it’s safe to walk away)

Other colours to identify:

  • Yellow Card: Below the rank of Inspector
  • White Card: Reserve police

After arresting you, they must send you to the nearest police station immediately.

Police officers can arrest you without a warrant for serious crimes, if it’s a less serious crime, they must have an arrest warrant.


3. Questions the police can ask

The police can ask you any question that they think is relevant.

Here are 3 common questions asked: 

  • Can I see your original documents?
  • What is your full name?
  • What is your full address?

If you’re not comfortable answering any other question apart from the above, you have the right to remain silent.

If the police does not arrest you, you can walk away. 

(Note: Sometimes by remaining silent, there may be the risk of further forms of pressure)

But, if you’re asked to follow the police to the station, you must follow him/her as it is the standard procedure. But you can ask politely on why you’re being taken to the station.


4. Details to provide AFTER being arrested

You should provide the police with:

  1. Your full name (as stated in your passport)
  2. Your passport number
  3. Details of your employer and;
  4. Any contact details of relatives and family. 


5. You can call someone you trust if you’re arrested or detained

You have the right to request to call your close relatives, the embassy of your country, a lawyer or any NGOs such as Tenaganita.

You can contact Tenaganita via their 24-hour hotline numbers:

  • Hotline 1: +6012 335 0512
  • Hotline 2: +6012 339 5350

Make sure you provide the following information to the person/agency you’re calling:

  • Your current location (eg: police station, detention centre, etc.)
  • Name of the Investigation officer
  • Time and place of arrest

NOTE: It may be easier to call a friend and ask him to contact Tenaganita.

You can only be detained for a maximum of 14 days. After that period, you must be brought to court to be charged, if you’re found to be involved in a crime. 

If found guilty, you may be detained longer in a Detention Centre until you’re deported.


6. If a body search is conducted

The police can only conduct a body search on you in 2 situations:

  1. When they suspect there’s evidence of a crime
  2. After you’ve been arrested. 

You have the right to ask for the search to be done in private, and in a professional manner.

If you are female, the search must be done by a female police officer. 


7. The safety of your belongings during arrest

Your personal belongings such as your phone, wallet etc. must be returned to you once you have been released. 

The police must make a record and put all your personal belongings in safe custody.

Make a note of your personal belongings that have been handed to the police. 


8. Ask for a translator in court

If you do not understand the police officer or the charge being read to you in court, you must indicate so and ask for a translator.

Do not plead guilty in court if you don’t understand what the charge is—ask to speak to a lawyer or NGO such as Tenaganita. 

You can get in touch with Tenaganita via their 24-hour hotline numbers:

  • Hotline 1: +6012 335 0512
  • Hotline 2: +6012 339 5350
migrant workers malaysia
arrest and detention
malaysian immigration
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Matdura S.

Very aunty-social.