Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
PUTRAJAYA: Assets and cash totalling over RM125mil from 15 employers suspected of harbouring or hiring illegal workers will be frozen by the Immigration Department.
This is the result of three months of investigations since the move to freeze assets of errant employers started on Oct 1.
Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said the process to freeze RM25mil in the bank accounts of three (out of the 15) employers is underway.
“The amount of money we identified does not include their other assets,” he told mStar Online.
Mustafar said most of these employers are in the industrial and services sector in the Klang Valley.
The cases, he said, are being investigated under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, which allows authorities to freeze the assets of suspects.
Mustafar added that the employers in question were also being investigated for various immigration, trafficking in persons and passport offences.
While investigation is being carried out, Mustafar said, action could be taken to freeze and seize assets under the law.
A special unit was formed by the department in September last year to go after bosses who hired illegal foreign workers.
Mustafar warned that the unit had their sights on more errant employers apart from the 15 cases so far.
He explained the move to freeze assets was aimed at tackling the problem of having too many illegal foreign workers in the country.
While there is no denying various sectors needed workers, Mustafar said, employers must hire them via legal channels.
He said there were employers who had hired illegal foreign workers but had come forward to register them via the government’s Rehiring Programme.
The department also had a programme to deport illegal foreigners on a voluntary basis.
Last year, the department nabbed 50,243 illegal immigrants, along with 1,174 employers and 24 agents for harbouring or hiring illegal foreign workers.
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