KLANG: The crackdown on illegal foreign workers is continuing with the Selangor Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on 24-hour patrols to nab undocumented workers traversing the state’s waters.
State MMEA director Kapt (M) Abu Zaki Mohammad said the operations began before Hari Raya Aidilfitri and the agency would continue monitoring the state’s entry points.
“So far, we have detained an undocumented foreigner at sea who was hired by a local fisherman,” he said.
A food stall owner in Shah Alam said he was worried as he had in his employment several undocumented workers.
“I could not register them under the E-Card registration because they are over the age limit and so, not qualified for work permits,” he said.
He said they have been working for him for several years and were a big help to his business.
“I hope the Government will increase the age limit from 45 to at least 55 or 60,” he said.
One of the workers, a woman aged 54, said she had to work to pay for the care of her 19-year-old disabled son back home in Indonesia.
“My son became mentally disabled and blind after suffering from high fever when he was four.
“I am here working illegally, constantly being hunted down for RM1,200 a month because I am fighting to keep my son alive,” she said.
In Melaka, foreign workers in the dirty, dangerous and difficult (3D) sectors said they might have to return home if they were forced to pay for their E-Card registration.
Several workers claimed that their employers were forcing them to pay for the registrations themselves.
“We would rather return home than let the Immigration enforcement officers detain us.
“The registration fee is close to RM1,500 and we have to pay for our working permits too,” said a 28-year-old Nepalese at Taman Melaka Raya here.
“Most of my countrymen have the same grouses and are not keen to continue working here.”
A 33-year-old Bangladeshi construction worker said he and his countrymen were in a limbo .
“Our employer told us that we would be detained for not having E-card,” he said.
An Indian barber from New Dehli said he had to pay the E-Card registration via monthly instalments.
“It’s unfair but I have no choice as I am here for a year and needed the money to settle my loan repayment in my homeland,” said the 24-year-old man.
The barber said his employer could not afford to bear the cost for all the workers.
In Penang, state Immigration Department assistant director Khwaja Banthey Navaz Mohamed Haneef said he hoped illegal workers would surrender themselves as part of the Program Serah Diri.
“So far, there are no other arrests other than the 23 illegal workers nabbed on Saturday.”
MMEA District II director Kapt Rozali Mohd Said said they were conducting their routine patrols.
“We have our usual team conducting daily patrols and another team on standby,” he said.
In George Town, Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Penang past chairman Datuk Jerry Chan said the Ops Ikrar raids had not caused any problem to the construction industry but it might if contractors were still depending on illegal labour.
“If the contractors responded to the warnings by the Federal Government and got the E-card for their foreign workers, there should not be any problem,” he said.
In Alor Setar, the state Immigration Department detained 18 illegal foreign workers for not having E-Card after two factories were raided in Bukit Pinang yesterday.
Its senior assistant director Marlis Marhaini Abdul Rashid said those arrested were from Nepal (15), Bangladesh (two) and Myanmar (one).
They were aged between 20 and 45 and have been sent to the Immigration Detention Depot in Belantik, Sik.