THE Home Minister was reported as saying the Government planned to allow employers to register and legalise their illegal foreign workers pending a review of the foreign worker intake policy (“Reprieve for employers”, The Star, July 5).
If this is true, I think it is very unwise. As we can recall, Malaysia has carried out an exercise to legalise illegal workers at least twice in the last 10 years, but the fact is that the number of illegals continue to remain in the millions.
In fact, as past experience has shown, a legalisation exercise will only open the floodgates to more illegals coming into the country to take advantage of this amnesty.
It is an open invitation by the Malaysian Government to foreigners to come to Malaysia during this period. As the exercise would take several months, the current estimated number of two million illegals may swell to three million by the end of the exercise.
During the last few years, the country has amended the laws to severely penalise the illegals as well as those harbouring them. The existence of two million illegals against about one million legal foreign workers shows that both the foreigners and the local employers of illegals do not respect our laws.
The proposal to start another legalisation exercise is tantamount to accepting their utter disregard for our laws.
In my opinion, the problem can be greatly reduced by:
·IMMEDIATELY increasing the enforcement strength of the Immigration Department together with the proposed task force comprising the Civil Defence Corps and Rela. Annually the Government collects several hundred million ringgit in the form of levy on the legal foreign workers, so it can afford a much larger budget for enforcement;
l ENSURING that all illegals caught must be fingerprinted and sent back to their home countries while Malaysians caught harbouring or employing the illegals should be punished in accordance with the laws;
· RELAXING the current policy of hiring legal foreign workers so more employers will be encouraged to recruit foreign workers legally, thus increase the revenue from the collection of levy; and
·ESTABLISHING a medium- to long-term policy to reduce dependency on foreign workers and that the approval of foreign workers will take this into account.
K.K. POH, Petaling Jaya. (via e-mail)
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