KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — A group of property owners today called out the joint management body (JMB) of a condominium in Ampang for allegedly facilitating an Immigration Department raid that took place on June 3 in Ampang, saying it was a form of harassment and intimidation meant to block refugees from renting their units.
The property owners said the raid was unwarranted and unjustified since their tenants had valid United Nations High Commission for Refugees cards.
They accused the JMB of abetting the raid that reportedly led to the detention of 49 immigrants over various purported offences, including allegations the tenants had no valid travel documents or possessed fake papers.
"We, a group of concerned owners of a number of units of a private condominium in Ampang, are angered by the events that took place on the late evening of June 3, 2022 to the early hours of 4 June 2022,” they said in a statement.
They did not name the condominium.
"During that period, our tenants, who are refugees registered with UNHCR Malaysia, were subjected to an immigration raid, which we strongly feel was unwarranted and unjustified,” they added.
"As this is a private property, we do not believe this could have occurred without the knowledge of the JMB, which had recently attempted to enforce a ruling prohibiting us from renting out our units to refugees. We believe that the facilitation of the immigration raid was an attempt to further intimidate and harass legitimate tenants who are refugees.”
Women and children as young as one were reported to be among those detained. The group said they were later released without any conditions by immigration authorities in the early hours of 4 June 2022 after verification by UNHCR.
"This is terrible and should not have happened,” the group said.
The group claimed the development’s JMB had made threats and intimidation prior to the raid in an alleged attempt to evict their tenants from the condominium.
A notice was said to have been issued on March 21, 2022, to vacate by June 30. The group said the notice was issued based on a discriminatory house rule that many owners had strongly objected to.
"Our tenants are not [undocumented migrants] as reported in the media but are refugees,” the group said.
Most of the tenants are said to be refugees from Afghanistan and include individuals and families with young children who fled the war and persecution by the Taliban regime.
As tenants, they have regularly paid rent and are respectful of the rules, the group stressed.
"We have coexisted and lived with this arrangement for years without issues until the recent unwarranted actions by the JMB,” they said.
"All human beings deserve basic human rights and dignity to have safe shelter and means of survival. As Malaysians, we believe in opening our homes and hearts to those who are facing hard times.”
Allegations of discrimination in the housing market are not uncommon in Malaysia, where landlords are known to rent out properties based on racial preferences.
Malaysia also does not recognise refugees, a policy that rights groups said has nurtured xenophobic and racist attitudes towards migrants.