Malaysia to monitor student prostitutes

January 17, 2003

The Malaysian government has set up a committee to monitor foreign students who are tempted to engage in immoral activities, including prostitution, during their stay in the country.

The move comes after an increasing number of Malaysian women complained that their husbands were having affairs with foreign students.

Deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi appointed Datuk Chor Chee Heung, the deputy home minister, to chair the committee, which comprises representatives from the education and immigration departments, local governments and police.

The committee will make recommendations to the home ministry for further action.

The students, who are from countries including Indonesia and China, work at karaoke joints, clubs and bars as "guest relations officers" to earn extra money. "This has led to immoral activities," Mr Chor said.

Malaysia prohibits foreign students from undertaking employment, and sensitivity over the sex industry is high.

"While students are here, we want to make sure they study, pass their examinations and go back without getting involved in immoral activities," the minister said.

International student numbers have steadily increased in the past three to four years. "We gain foreign exchange, and it is in line with the government's objective to make Malaysia the centre of higher learning in Asia," Mr Chor said. "But we will not allow the country's image to be tarnished by undesirable elements."

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