KUCHING: Employers in the state have been warned to register their illegal foreign workers before Dec 1 or face the music.
“The same applies to illegal workers,” said a source from the state Immigration Department.
A spokesman with the department’s corporate communication division said the operation to document illegal foreign workers throughout the state had commenced yesterday and it would run concurrently with an exercise to register legal foreign workers (those who came in with valid work permits).
He said both exercises would end on Nov 30.
He advised local employers to take the opportunity to register their illegal workers within the period or else they would be charged in court.
He warned that the department wouldlaunch a “sweeping out the illegal foreigners”campaign after the deadline.
“Our counterparts in the peninsula are contemplating doing that and so we will do thesame too after the deadline. When we do that,everybody, the illegal foreign workers andtheir employers will be arrested and charged in court,” he told The Star yesterday.
The spokesman hinted that most of the illegal foreign workers were employed in the plantation sector.
He said based on the present acreage of oil palm plantations, the department estimated that there were more than 100,000 illegal foreign workers throughout the state.
He said there were about 1.2mil hectares of oil palm plantation in the state with one worker looking after seven hectares.
He noted that based on the acreage, there were some 140,000 foreign workers working in the plantations.
“Of the total number, more than 94,000 are legal. We believe there are also illegal foreign workers in other sectors,” he added.
He said during this period, illegal workers, whether they had registered through their employers or personally, would be issued the registration slips for them to get the proper documents to work in the state.
He said all illegal workers would be registered if they came forward even if they did not have proof of employment in the state.
“With or without work passes, we will issue the registration slip to them as long as they have passports. To those who do not have any document and voluntarily want to go home, we will help to deport them without taking them to court,” he said.
He said registration could be done at the various divisional immigration counters or through mobile units.
Meanwhile, state Immigration director Datuk Robert Lian, speaking after the start of the exercise, said the massive legalisation and amnesty exercise for illegal immigrants codenamed “6P” was the “perfect chance” for them to legalise their presence in the state, “after which we will come in full force to apprehend them”.
“And it will not only be us but also all enforcement agencies, including the police and Rela,” he warned. By 3pm here yesterday, only seven foreigners had registered.
A woman from the Philippines, who spoke on anonymity, said that she had been staying illegally for two years and was relieved that there was such an exercise.
She said when her boyfriend learnt of the exercise, he advised her to respond immediately.
She added that she was too happy to be among the first to register knowing that she would be able to go back to her homeland without having to go to court.