March 31 deadline to complete legalisation of foreign workers under RTK 2.0, says Saifuddin

SHAH ALAM: Employers and foreign workers were excited to meet Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail who visited the Selangor Immigration Department on Tuesday (Jan 9).

The Home Minister had gone to the ground to check for himself how things were done under the Second Labour Recalibration Programme (RTK 2.0).

He stopped to talk to a few who were among the more than 500 foreign workers and employers who came for their screening and verification process.

“Have you had your lunch? How long have you been waiting? What is lacking?” the minister asked some of the foreign workers.

Saifuddin was accompanied by the Home Ministry secretary-general Ruji Ubi, Immigration director-general Datuk Ruslin Jusoh and Selangor Immigration state director Khairrul Aminus Khairuddin.

Saifuddin was briefed by the Selangor RTK Taskforce head Noor Hamzai Hamzah who explained the various steps to the minister.

Indonesian Barokah, 47, from Jakarta said that she was so excited that she had managed to take a selfie with the minister.

“I told him that I have been here for four years now and my employer wants to legalise me as my pass expired last year. I am in the construction sector,” said Barokah.

Paper-mill employer TS Goh said that he told Saifuddin while the online registration was excellent, there should be more counters to handle the screening and verification process so that the wait is shortened.

Saifuddin said that he had to come see for himself to ensure that the process is going smoothly and if there are areas which can be improved.

He said that there will be no more leniency for employers who fail to follow up with their registration process of their illegal foreign workers and complete the verification process after March 31 under RTK2.0.

Saifuddin said that should they fail to do so after March 31, the immigration laws would be evoked and action will be taken against the employers and foreign workers who were not legalised.

The minister also said that Malaysia currently has two million legal foreign workers and there is still a deficit of 400,000 that has yet to be filled in various economic sectors.

He further said that he will be holding talks with the Human Resources Ministry to see how the country can handle the foreign workers better and ensure economic sectors in need of them are able to do so legally.

"I came down to the grounds to see for myself how the Recalibration Programme 2.0 was being conducted by the officers on the ground here. A year ago, we started this programme to legalise those foreign workers which the employers did not send home despite having finished their contracts.

"Employers registered 1.1 million foreign workers online under the Recalibration Programme 2.0. However, they still have to attend in person with the said foreign workers at the Immigration departments for the screening and verification process using biometrics before they are given the stickers to legalise their workers.

"March 31 will be the last date by which the employers would have to complete the screening and verification process. After this, if employers still fail to do so, they will not be entertained and we will not hesitate to take the needed actions under the Immigration Act such as Section 55B, Section 55E and Section 56 (1)(d).

He said that he was satisfied with the whole process although there were some shortcomings which could be made better.

"Some of the foreign workers and employers have given their feedback to me, and said that while some areas are excellent, there are a few shortcomings. As for the Immigration officers, they seem to work long hours and I see that they even delay their meals while attending to the foreign workers and employers," said Saifuddin.

He said that while the Madani government is a merciful one, Malaysia is a sovereign state with laws to be upheld.

"While we welcome tourists and travellers to Malaysia, we have our laws which they must comply with. If foreigners are undocumented, we will take action under the laws.

"As to the operations on undocumented foreign migrants, we will first check if they have the papers. Should their employers not come forward, we will then check with the embassies and deport them if possible. We will also charge them in court for those with serious immigration offences and even blacklist those who are repeat offenders.

"For the first five days of this year alone, we have conducted 168 operations on 2,049 illegal foreign migrants. We have arrested 765 migrants and eight employers. The police have also identified 14 hotspots where this tends to happen," said Saifuddin.

He said that although there are Immigration depots to hold the illegal foreign migrants, these operations were not conducted to simply fill them.

As of Oct 13, under RTK 2.0, about 518,000 undocumented migrants were issued new work permits and channelled into the manufacturing, construction, farming, agriculture and services sectors.

RTK 1.0, which ran from November 2020 to Dec 31 last year, saw 418,649 undocumented migrants registered, involving 30,137 employers.

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