Thirty-six foreigners, some of whom carried United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards, were detained in two raids on massage parlors in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
One of the raids was conducted at a popular parlor in the Bukit Bintang neighborhood of Kuala Lumpur, right in the heart of the city’s shopping district. Immigration Department Director-General Khairil Dzaimee Daud told the media that most of the workers at the establishment were found to be carrying UNHCR cards.
“The misuse of UNHCR cards for immoral and illegal activities is a serious offence and the Immigration will propose that the refugee status of those detained be cancelled,” Khairil Dzaimee said.
Those carrying UNHCR cards are not legally eligible to work in Malaysia, forcing many to seek jobs in the informal economy to make ends meet.
When officials burst into Bukit Bintang location, some of the workers allegedly attempted to flee via a back door, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Ten women and four men from Myanmar, and one Filipino national, were found to be working in the establishment without valid documents, and were arrested.
Another raid at a spa in Cheras resulted in the arrest and detention of 21 women — 10 from Vietnam, five from Indonesia, four from Thaliand, and two from Laos. They were found to allegedly be working in a purported brothel hidden behind a reflexology front at a three-star hotel in the Kuala Lumpur-area neighborhood.