PETALING JAYA: Beginning tomorrow, Immigration personnel will fan out across the nation in a massive crackdown – the first under the Pakatan Harapan government – on illegal immigrants.
The 3+1 amnesty programme, which enables illegal immigrants to pay a RM300 fine and RM100 for a special pass that allows them to return to their respective countries, ends today.
But manufacturers and business owners are troubled, as they fear that the “uncertainty” over the foreign worker policy may hurt their ability to manage operations.
Yesterday, Immigration directorgeneral Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said: “The amnesty deadline will not be extended. We will intensify our operations against illegal immigrants starting tomorrow.
“We have given them ample time to sign up for the programme, so again, there will not be an extension.
“Illegal immigrants are still heading to our offices around the country in a bid to obtain amnesty and return home.”
Mustafar said operations against illegal immigrants were an ongoing process with some 9,208 raids conducted between January and Aug 15.
“We have arrested 28,063 illegal immigrants and 799 employers so far.
“Starting tomorrow, our efforts will only increase as we aim to free the country of illegal immigrants.
“Coincidentally, tomorrow is National Day, so we will use the day to step up efforts to liberate our country from illegal immigrants,” he said.
From 2014 until Aug 1 this year, some RM400mil in compounds have been collected with over 840,000 illegal immigrants expatriated at their own cost under the amnesty programme, he said.
Mustafar said illegal workers had also been given the opportunity to stay on through the rehiring programme, which was held from Feb 15, 2016, until June 30 this year.
“Some 744,000 foreign workers registered but only 450,000 met the necessary requirements,” he said.
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Datuk Soh Thian Lai said local manufacturers might face difficulties in coping with demand and orders if the uncertainty over foreign workers policy remained unresolved.
“(For now), there is not much impact on the current orders and businesses. But insufficient supply of foreign workers could affect output and businesses, especially those with experienced workers.
“Foreign workers with set skills and experience would be difficult to replace,” he added.
SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang said the association had received many complaints from members.
“SMEs in the manufacturing sector will be the ones affected badly. With less workers and no new solution and policy in sight, they may not be able to cope with their orders in the coming months,” he said.
“The programme is ending, but what is the new system or policy in place? The new government said it would come out with a policy to address the foreign labour issue so that it will not affect the economy.”
He said the previous government allowed for an extension of three years for foreign workers who had 10 years experience but were no longer permitted.
The Immigration Department is expected to hold a press conference in Putrajaya today on the issue.