PUTRAJAYA: Undocumented foreign workers may get a chance to be hired legally if plans to allow employers to hire those held at immigration depots go through, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin.
He said the move will address the issue of employing foreigners without valid permits.
However, only those who are caught living and working in Malaysia illegally can be employed, not those with criminal records, he added.
“The plan is to allow employers to look for prospective employees among illegal immigrants who are being held at immigration depots.
“This is one way for us to ensure that foreigners are hired legally to work in Malaysia, ” he said in an interview in conjunction with his 100 days in office.
The minister however said the idea was still on the drawing board as there are issues that need to be addressed before this proposal can materialise.
“This is all in the planning. We need to discuss the plan with the Immigration Department authorities and other agencies to see if this is actually possible, ” he added.
The current practice of hiring foreign workers is having to bring them in from their country of origin which is a costly affair as agents and other costs are involved in the process.
Foreigners who are caught working without a valid permit will be deported.
The Immigration Department has nabbed 17,226 foreign illegals during operations conducted from January to June 15.
Authorities have also arrested 243 employers believed to have employed foreign workers illegally.
Hamzah said it is important to weed out illegal immigrants to ensure safety and security of the country, pointing out this is a policy practised not just in Malaysia, but by other countries too.
“For instance, Malaysians who are working in Singapore must have a valid work permit. That is what we want from foreigners wanting to work here too and not to live in our country illegally, ” he said.
According to the Malaysian Employers Federation, there could be up to 3.3 million illegal workers in the country, against 2.2 million documented ones.