PAC probe uncovered several weaknesses in process of hiring foreign workers, says chairman

KUALA LUMPUR: Identity theft, the use of middlemen and "special" applications for the supply of foreign workers were among issues uncovered during a probe by Parliament's Public Account Committee (PAC) on foreign worker intakes.

"The PAC found that approvals given for special applications were higher than approvals for applications made through the normal process.

"This is an unhealthy practice and is not in accordance with the original intention of tightening the qualifying process for the foreign worker quota," PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh (pic) said on Tuesday (Nov 24).

He noted the use of "special" applications for foreign workers was also done in sectors where a freeze was in place for foreign workers.

He said the use of middlemen in the application process had also made the existing application system ineffective.

Wong added that the PAC also discovered incidents of identity theft used to create fake quotas for foreign workers through the Immigration Department's MyIMMs system.

"A total of 20 police reports were lodged since 2017 but to date, investigations are still pending," he said.

He said weaknesses were also discovered in the Foreign Workers Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema)'s health screening process where foreign worker permits were issued despite workers failing the screening.

"This will give rise to a risk of the spread of infectious diseases among the local community," he added.

Wong said the bi-partisan committee recommended the government make several improvements to address the shortcomings.

Among them was for an integrated system to be implemented between the Home Ministry and Human Resources Ministry to manage foreign worker data and intake.

He said the ministries should also ensure the application process is done through the ePPAx and MyIMMs systems.

"Special applications must only be done based on appeals supported by merits or it involving national projects," he added.

Wong said PAC also recommended that the use of middlemen in the application process with the Home Ministry should be stopped.

"We recommend that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigate the role of the middleman in the application process," he added.

The probe by the PAC was initiated in July last year based on weaknesses identified by the Auditor-General's Report 2018.

The investigations involved the committee calling several high ranking officials to testify including a visit to the Lenggeng Immigration Depot in February this year.

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