Govt defends treatment of foreign workers during Covid19, including undocumented ones

PUTRAJAYA: The government has defended its treatment of foreign workers in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pic) said even those who entered the country illegally are treated in a humane manner by the Malaysian government.

“Foreigners with valid work permits are protected. For example, those working the estates are given housing. Those in other sectors get all kinds of benefits from employers.

“We take care of their welfare, there is no issue. We acknowledge that we need them for dangerous, dirty and difficult (3D) jobs.

“As for those who entered the country illegally and do not have valid documents, we have to take action against them. Even then, we do it humanely. When we find that some of them are Covid-19 positive at our depots, we screen all of them -100% - so that they can be saved.

“We send them to MAEPS (Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang) to be treated. If you check out MAEPS, it is such a nice place and the government has spent millions of ringgit to set it up (as a Covid-19 hospital).

“If we are worried about an increasing number of positive cases among them, there are two more places they can be placed at. So to call the government inhumane is not fair, ” he said.

Ismail Sabri added that the treatment does not change anything about their status.

“They entered the country illegally and do not have any right to be here. We are in talks with their home countries to take them back. We do not even want to jail them here, ” said Ismail Sabri at the National Security Council (MKN)’s daily Covid-19 press conference here.

Ismail Sabri was asked about claims that the Malaysian government had not treated its foreign workers humanely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the rounding up of undocumented migrants during the enhanced movement control order (MCO), Ismail Sabri said it had to be done.

“When the enhanced MCO is lifted and the barbed wires are removed, the residents of the area are free to move - including those who are undocumented. If we allow them to be free, then it is wrong because they are illegals.

“We are not taking advantage of them. We send them to our detention depots. If they test negative for Covid-19, we will deport them.

“It is not nice to accuse Malaysia of mistreatment. In fact, other countries treat them (undocumented migrants) worse. There is no need for politicians or NGOs to act as heroes for undocumented migrants, ” he said.

On the capacity of the temporary hospital in MAEPS, Ismail Sabri said it can accommodate 600 patients - with 230 beds in use so far.

“Besides MAEPS, we also have the unused leprosy centre in the Sungai Buloh Hospital and the former maternity wards at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, giving us a capacity of 1,430 beds, ” he said.

As of Tuesday, 382 positive cases were found among detainees at three Immigration Depots in Bukit Jalil, Semenyih and Sepang.

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