PETALING JAYA: There must be amnesty for undocumented foreign workers to ensure that they undergo Covid-19 screening to prevent undetected infections spreading in the community, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
"Failure to test Malaysia's high population of undocumented workers may put the country at risk of increased cases of Covid-19 among foreign workers and the spread of undetected infections in the community," said MMA president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy.
He cited media reports claiming there were about two million documented foreign workers compared with some three million undocumented foreign workers in the country.
"It must be noted that it is the government's policy to test all foreign workers for Covid-19 and therefore, every effort must be made
to ensure that the undocumented foreign workers are not left out," he said in a statement Monday (Dec 7).
Dr Subramaniam said many undocumented foreign workers will avoid coming forward for screening for fear of being punished.
"The fear of punitive action being taken against them or their employers may even lead to workers running away or employers hiding undocumented workers from the authorities.
"Therefore, an immigration amnesty programme will be needed to enable the screening of this vulnerable group in the country," he said.
He said many of the undocumented foreign workers are in the construction sector and are living in the major cities with the majority in Kuala Lumpur.
"MMA is concerned that without an amnesty programme, the thousands of undocumented workers based in the federal capital may not present themselves for the screenings," he said.
He said the Home Ministry and Human Resources Ministry must look into these concerns as a significant number of workers may be left out in the mandatory Covid-19 screening for foreign workers.
The government recently announced mandatory Covid-19 screening of 1.7 million foreign workers in view of the high number of cases involving the group.
The screening exercise began on Dec 1 with the first phase involving 888,342 foreign workers in Selangor, Labuan, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Negri Sembilan.