PETALING JAYA: With just days before the end of the foreign workers amnesty programme, the race is on to legalise workers in the construction, food and services sectors.
The 3+1 amnesty programme ends on Thursday and according to feedback, many employers are caught in a bind with the Immigration Department and its vendors said to be hard-pressed coping with the surge in rehiring demand.
The status of the three vendors involved – MyEG, Iman Resources Sdn Bhd and Bukti Megah Sdn Bhd – is uncertain, with sources saying their contracts awarded under the previous government is in question.
Immigration will launch a nationwide crackdown against illegal foreign workers from Aug 31 with no extension to the deadline.
Harry Lam, the owner of a laundry firm in the Klang Valley, said he went through the usual process at the Immigration Department to pay about RM900 for each worker.
He said he was later told to go to one of the vendors to renew the permits online, but he said he had not received any update yet from the vendors on the status of his foreign workers.
“We are going back and forth between the Immigration Department and the vendors.
“We are stuck in a situation where we might be accused of harbouring illegals after Aug 30,” Lam said.
Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Ayoob Khan Muhamad Yakub said he had written several appeals to the Home Ministry and Immigration to look into the matter but had yet to get a response.
“We are having a headache now as there is a shortage of workers especially from India.
“There is uncertainty as to how we get our experienced workers registered.
“We are not sure if we should send them back first. We do not want to be penalised for something which is not our fault,” he said.
Bina Puri Holdings Bhd group executive director Datuk Matthew Tee said employers faced too much “red tape” in trying to register their foreign workers.
“Many of them were forced to go to either agents or vendors but as employers, we prefer to deal directly with Immigration.
“We hope the authorities can cut down on middlemen,” he said.
Another employer, who runs a carwash outlet here, said he was facing similar problems and was not sure why it was taking so long to process his applications.
“I have three workers at the moment and have followed all the requirements such as going through health checks as required.
“The process however is taking too long and the vendors are also not sure.
“Are they still responsible to process our application or is it the Immigration Department?” he asked.
Master Builders Association Malaysia president Foo Chek Lee said its members had complained about the tedious processes in legalising the foreign workers.
“We hope the government can reconsider ending the rehiring programme and give employers another chance to legalise their workers.
“We hope the authorities can also simplify it. Some have resorted to going through illegal agents.
“We hope the new government can extend it for at least six months up to a year so we can all have a win-win situation,” he said.
Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies president Datuk Foo Yong Hooi said the association had received similar complaints from members.
Attempts to get comments from the vendors were unsuccessful.
Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali had said that large-scale operations would be carried out from Aug 31 and that there would be no extension to the deadline.
According to Mustafar, some 744,000 foreign workers registered with the department but only 450,000 met the necessary requirements.
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