Plans for illegal workers’ jabs tabled today

PUTRAJAYA: A paper to spell out vaccination plans for illegal immigrants and undocumented migrants is expected to be tabled at the Cabinet meeting today.

It is learnt that the Home Ministry will be presenting the paper after the initial plan to brief the Cabinet last week was held back for some “fine-tuning”.

The Home Ministry has been reticent about its plans despite the matter being announced two weeks ago.

Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin was tight-lipped when asked to provide an insight into the vaccination plan for illegal immigrants.

“Let me brief the Cabinet first,” he said.

While it is yet unknown what the plans entail, immigration authorities have indicated that illegal immigrants whose names are listed in the labour recalibration programme will be considered for Covid-19 vaccination.

As at July 22, illegal immigrants numbering 155,124 have been registered for the labour recalibration programme, which has been extended until Dec 31.

The number of illegals opting to return home under the repatriation recalibration programmes currently stands at 102,592.

Sources with knowledge of the issue said that due to the nature of the programme, the authorities have to tread carefully and ensure “all angles are covered” before any announcement can be made.

“It is a delicate matter for obvious reasons. If you set aside the issue of law and enforcement, there are concerns by Malaysians who feel that they should be vaccinated first, especially with the rising number of cases,” said a source.

The same source, however, acknowledged that vaccinating these groups is important not just to achieve herd immunity but to ensure economic activities are not disrupted and food security remains intact.

“A case in point is how an enhanced movement control order that was placed on several localities in Cameron Highlands last month after a spike in positive cases among farm hands including illegal foreign workers had caused a shortage of vegetable supply.

“This had disrupted supplies and market networks for vegetable suppliers from the country’s major food production zone. We need to prevent a recurrence of such incidents,” said the source.

Another matter which the plan is expected to spell out is how employers are to be made accountable in getting their illegal foreign workers vaccinated and proper employment documents.

The government had said the 2.5 million documented foreigners in the country would be included in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

This includes those with work permits which make up the biggest number of foreigners at 1,403,409 and officials said the fact that they have documents and their whereabouts are known makes it possible for them to be included.

On July 16, the coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin said those in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur who had not received vaccination appointments or could not register for appointments such as those who did not own identification or travel documents could walk in to get inoculated starting this Sunday.

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