PBS president: Yes to temporary work permit for undocumented migrants in Peninsular, provided with strict conditions

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has no problem supporting the proposed temporary work permit for undocumented migrants in Peninsular Malaysia, provided strict conditions are complied with, says Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

The party president said PBS would support the noble intention of the programme, on the condition that it is implemented in accordance with immigration and labour laws, managed well and conducted with transparency.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) said this is a short term measure to relieve shortages of labour in plantations and industrial sectors, particularly in Peninsular Malaysia.

Ongkili said the move is in response to urgent requests by employers in light of severe shortages of labour, especially in the industrial and plantation sectors.

“Many states have also been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, thus putting a lot of legal labour out of the market, ” he said.

“Since the number of illegal workers in detention centres is high, and for some states, beyond the carrying capacity of such centres, therefore the government is considering what has been practised many times in the past, ” he added.

Ongkili said the permit is a form of regularisation, whereby the private sector requesting for foreign labourers can apply to recruit workers through the Immigration and Labour Departments directly from the detention centres, or from the domestic labour market.

“But they must comply with the strict procedures and conditions set by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), ” he said.

He said the move would further help the government to get these illegal labourers to register themselves during the amnesty period, particularly their personal data and biometric information.

“Those who do not come forward voluntarily during the registration exercise will, of course, be subjected to arrest and deportation, ” said Ongkili.

He said the first phase of the operation will be to meet the labour demand in Peninsular Malaysia, whereas the operation will only be extended to Sabah and Sarawak should there be similar requests.

“In the case of Sabah, an on-going discussion between the Department of Sabah and Sarawak Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office and MOHA is being held for the setting up of a proposed special committee, ” he said.

“This is to ensure that the management and outcome of the operation will also be part of the strategy to reduce the presence of undocumented migrants in the state, ” Ongkili explained.

He pointed out that there is also a very high incidence of Covid-19 cases affecting most plantation and construction sectors in Sabah and Sarawak.

He added that a detailed discussion between MOHA, the Labour Department and Sabah government is needed before the proposed exercise is extended to Sabah.

Ongkili assured the people that PBS leaders in Sabah and local governments will continue to scrutinise, monitor, participate and assist in any capacity to ensure that the operation is done in accordance with the law and with strict adherence to the procedures and conditions set by MOHA.

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