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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Kudos for crackdown

To be really effective, authorities must also go after employers who hire illegal foreign workers.

I MUST congratulate the authorities on the massive nationwide crackdown on illegal foreign workers.

Immigration director-general Datuk Alias Ahmad said the department would go all out in detaining illegal immigrants, and as such, employers must register their foreign workers by Jan 20.

This is after the dateline closed on the legalisation of foreign workers under the 6P programme.

Many employers were making a frenzied dash to the 6P One-Stop Centre on the eve of the deadline despite a special three-month extension granted on Oct 21.

A Home Ministry official said although the special programme spanned three months, many employers did not act early.

The Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers and Illegal Immigrants chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had decided on no further extensions as the Home Ministry vowed to move in and deport the illegals starting today.

I call on the immigration department to go all out and leave no stone unturned to flush out the illegals. We have tolerated them for too long and at huge cost to the country and taxpayers money.

Too much has been said that foreign workers contribute to the economy. Maybe, but the cost to the country in terms of security, social and economic cost but driving wages down and remitting billions of ringgit out of the country and dampening domestic consumption and demand, far outweigh the benefits.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahya had said that the influx of foreign workers into the country had been the major contributing factor for the spike in tuberculosis (TB) infection among locals in the country.

In 2011, there were about 20,000 cases of TB reported among the locals with 1,600 fatalities. The latest statistics on TB infection is indeed alarming.

A large number of foreign workers who were brought in legally have tested positive for TB. Medical certificates issued in their country of origin have been found to be fake. If the so-called legal foreign workers have such issues, imagine the health status of the two million-odd illegal immigrants who have not undergone any medical screening?

TB has been identified as a major infectious disease that poses a threat to the world population and it is second to HIV/AIDS in causing death. TB spreads easily through coughing, spitting, speaking or sneezing as such the public are at high risk of getting infected.

The ever-increasing trend of TB infection can wreak havoc in our healthcare system.

It is apparent that the rise in TB infection cases in the country is closely linked to our foreign worker population.

The second phase of the nationwide crackdown on illegals is expected be more effective as it will cover a lot more industrial sectors as well as popular hideouts.

It is also good to know that the cost to deport the illegals would be borne by the workers themselves or employers as the Government had spent millions in past years to detain and to deport them.

“Some RM16mil was spent for food at the detention centres, while RM3mil was spent to send them back last year.

“It is hard to know the exact number of illegals as some of them might have sneaked in or out of the country,” said Alias, who estimated that about 480,000 illegals are still in the country.

I also laud Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s bold statement that employers who disagree with the cost of RM110 for the i-Kad for foreign workers should not be hiring foreigners to work for them.

Zahid took to task employers that are against the Government’s move of charging RM110 for each foreign worker hired to have the i-Kad as it would burden employers.

About 2.3 million foreign workers who have registered under the 6P programme must have the i-Kad that is complete with security features, the latest by the end of this year, as a measure to stem the problem of illegals in the country.

My worry is with our expertise we seemed to have in cloning, how sure are we that we do not have fake i-Kad, just as we have fake MyKad.

Another worry is that this is not the first crackdown on illegals. After the usual hoo-hah, detentions, deportations, things will quiet down and illegals will start to stream in again. So we must really tighten our borders otherwise all this will be in vain, again.

To be really effective we must go after the employers who hire illegals because if there are no employers willing to hire illegals, no illegals will come, there will be no work for them.

I call on political parties to realise that is not on the national interest to be lenient on employers who break the law.

I call on financial institutions to withhold financing and credit facilities to such employers. Quite frankly, hiring illegals is a form of human trafficking and that is no better than drug trafficking. Surely no self-respecting banks would want to be acting in cahoots with such illegal practice.

In 2012, the US State Department included Malaysia as one of the countries who has not met the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards but is trying to make improvements in fighting human trafficking.

Tags / Keywords: Sarawak , union yes


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