PETALING JAYA: Employers are appealing to the Government to extend today’s deadline for their unregistered foreign workers to apply for the E-Card (enforcement card).
“This is because the registration and rehiring response is far below the expected target of 400,000 to 600,000,” said Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh, who represents the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) in the Home Ministry’s foreign workers task force.
He added that the ministry should widen the eligibility so that all illegal foreign workers can be registered.
“This will make the extension more meaningful. Many illegal foreign workers in the country are not eligible for E-Card registration because of the stringent conditions set by the Home Ministry,” Tan said.
The programme covers the manufacturing, construction, plantation, agriculture and service sectors.
It was reported in February that the programme is only extended to illegals from 15 source countries: Bangladesh, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsud-din Bardan said the Government should consider issuing temporary identification documents to foreign workers whose applications cannot be processed in time because of the long queues.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said on Wednesday that 126,350 E-Cards had been issued since Feb 15.
He also said that the registration period would not be extended because enough time had been given, and enforcement against illegal immigrants would begin tomorrow.
Some employers have camped outside the Port Klang Immigration Office since Wednesday night to secure the E-Cards.
A few hundred foreign workers could be seen waiting around the four-storey building and in the restaurant across the road.
“The officers are very friendly but the queue is too long,” said a contractor who wanted to be known only as Remi, 36.
Remi and his business partner have applied for E-Cards for more than 50 foreign workers since the Immigration Department launched the programme on Feb 15.
This time they were trying to register 18 more Bangladeshi workers as their company needs additional manpower after accepting a new construction project in Setia Alam recently.
“We slept in the car last night and went to the mosque across the road to shower,” he said.
The Port Klang Immigration Office has extended its operating hours to midnight since Wednesday but a source said the officials had worked overtime until that time even during Ramadan.
A wall plaster contractor who asked to be named only as Teoh said some of his Bangladeshi workers’ passports were taken by their old agents.
He praised the E-Card registration exercise for giving the workers a chance to gain legal recognition and secure a new passport and work permit.
“They are good workers, and that is difficult to find these days. But if they don’t have legal documents, we’ll get into trouble,” said Teoh.