PUTRAJAYA: There is no need for an amnesty programme for illegal migrants as the labour recalibration which started in November is still ongoing, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.
At the same time, he said the raids to identify those without proper documentation would continue.
Under the recalibration programme, employers in the construction, manufacturing, plantation, and agriculture sectors are allowed to employ undocumented foreign workers.
The programme has now been extended to employers in four sub-sectors – wholesale and retail, restaurants, cargo as well as cleaning services.
The government also rolled out the repatriation recalibration programme where undocumented migrants can volunteer to return to their homelands.
“If we can do that, it will be easier for all parties.
“This is because they will have proper documentation and they no longer have to run, hide or stay hidden, ” said Hamzah in an interview with The Star.
Opposition lawmakers and human rights groups have voiced their concern over the ongoing raids against the illegals and urged the government to stop the action and instead provide an amnesty to ensure the smooth implementation of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme.
They pointed out that such raids could push vulnerable people into hiding and increase the risk of Covid-19 infections.
Hamzah said there was no guarantee the illegal migrants would volunteer to come out if there were no raids.
“Why would you want to give amnesty to these people when we do not even know their backgrounds.“We must always prioritise the interest of the country and our people, ” he said, adding that he hoped the rakyat could understand his responsibility.
“This is an old issue and it has been ongoing for years.
“I think we have to start somewhere, ” he added.
Hamzah said since the rollout of the recalibration programme, more than 200, 000 individuals had been involved in the plan.
“About 110, 000 of them have applied to stay in the country. A few thousand employers had also asked us to allow these people to work for them, and we allowed it.
“An estimated 100, 000 wanted to go back to their respective home countries, ” he said.
Hamzah also slammed a group of 14 lawmakers who objected to the government’s move to help facilitate the process of obtaining documentation, believing that the illegal migrants had been victimised by some Malaysians.
“If they are being victimised by Malaysians (as alleged), we need to correct the situation. How can we correct it if we cannot find these people?
“Let me just do my work, we detain them, separate them one by one and correct the situation, ” he said.
“We have put them in the recalibration plan. Some employers have gone to our depot and applied to allow these people to work for them.“We have done that. Thousands of them. In the end, they have proper documentation, ” he added.
Hamzah said as at December last year, Malaysia had an estimated 2.5 million registered foreigners, including those with PR status, temporary work permits and spouse visa.
“We are not concerned about these groups.
“If we want to vaccinate them tomorrow, we know where they stay, we can do contact tracing, it is all in the open, ” he said.
On a separate matter, Hamzah warned the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) not to simply issue their cards without proper vetting as doing so would see the numbers reaching millions within less than 10 years.He said the ministry’s record currently showed there were 179, 383 UNHCR cardholders in the country compared to 140, 983 in 2013.
“I feel that the majority of Malaysians do not agree with the huge number of refugees, who made Malaysia their destination of choice, as it might lead to various social ills.
“It is unfair for Malaysia to carry the burden of outsiders. We have to find a credible solution as we are a sovereign country with its own laws.
“We will work with the Foreign Ministry and UNHCR to solve the influx of refugees in the country, ” he said.