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?
Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said he had proof that there were agents and syndicates master-minded by foreign nationals who were cheating the illegal immigrants and were currently living luxuriously and even being awarded the title of ‘Datuk Seri.’
As such, he said he had directed the Immigration Department of Malaysia so that enforcement activities to nab illegal immigrants were also focused on the agents and syndicates bringing them in.
“Enforcement operations found 95 per cent of illegal immigrants entering the country had valid documents but in the end fell victims to the agents and syndicates. Most of the victims of the agents and syndicates were from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Myanmar.
“We find almost 95 per cent of illegal immigrants coming to this country had valid documents but became illegals to stay here as their documents were either held by the agents or syndicates. There are also employers who kept their travel documents and work permits,” he said.
He said this at a media conference after opening the 2015 Immigration Day Celebration here, Saturday.
Also present were Sarawak Social Development Minister representing the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Deputy Home Ministers Datuk Nur Jazlan and Masir Kujat, and Immigration Department of Malaysia director-general Datuk Seri Mustafa Ibrahim.
Commenting further, Ahmad Zahid said he had directed the Immigration Department of Malaysia director-general, via the enforcement division, aided by the Royal Malaysia Police and Department of Volunteers Malaysia to conduct full enforcement.
“I want the Immigration Department of Malaysia to focus not only on nabbing illegals but also to seek, investigate, arrest and take to court the agents and syndicates involved,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid also said that heavier punishments would be meted out if the agents and syndicates involved were found guilty.
“The Immigration Act 1959 is heavy enough, but if the people wants the act to be strengthened and its penalties increased, the Home Ministry is prepared to do it.
“I will discuss with my two deputies and the Ministry’s Secretary General to seek legal advise to strengthen the act and existing regulations,” he added.
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