I REFER to the report “Illegal foreigners our biggest pain” (The Star, Nov 18) where newly-appointed Immigration director-general Datuk Mustafa Ibrahim did not mince his words and promised to flush out illegal immigrants and illegal foreign workers.
Having been the director-general of Rela prior to his present appoinment, Mustafa can count on his experience and networking to do the job more efficiently and effectively.
Nonetheless, it is a thankless job that needs to be done to restore the rakyat’s confidence in the Government.
Malaysia is now a haven for illegal immigrants as unlike other countries, there are many job opportunities and there is a big demand for them by industries.
Many are attracted to Malaysia for the good and humane treatment given to illegals. When caught, they are properly documented, given warm clothing and food while in detention.
Any enforcement officers caught ill-treating the illegals under their care will be dealt with harshly under the law.
United Nations agencies such as UNHCR acknowledge that Malaysia is one of the very few developing countries that honours and practices the UN Charter in taking care of illegal immigrants.
As a nation that is fast moving towards developed nation status, Malaysia needs more foreign workers in the various industries as locals are hard to find for jobs that are considered “dirty and hard”.
Given the demand of industries and the complexity of bureaucracy, we find a situation where illegals are the answer to the labour shortage.
Despite the strict laws against hiring illegals, many employers couldn’t care less as they know how to circumvent the laws.
Given the lack of enforcement due to many mitigating factors, many legal workers opt to be illegals.
At the same time, the lucrative human trafficking business finds Malaysia a haven to do business as everything seems to be negotiable.
It is only when a catastrophe on the scale of what happened in Cameron Highlands occurs and is highlighted in the media, that the relevant authorities begin to move.
Flushing out illegal immigrants is not really difficult if citizen’s arrest is used where each catch will have monetary rewards. But such methods are used in lawless countries as it can be open to abuse.
What is required is to regulate the illegals, as many are law abiding, whose main intention of coming here is to earn a living to feed their families back home.
As a God fearing nation, we have a moral responsibility to these unfortunate people that they are not exploited by human traffickers.
What the rakyat expects from the relevant government agencies, such as the Immigration department, is to consistently monitor the situation and not to carry our operations on an adhoc basis.
The Immigration officers have done a good job, and they can do much better one with the new director-general.