Report: Home minister says no new amnesty scheme for undocumented migrants

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Immigration Department personnel round up foreign workers during a raid on a construction site in Cyberjaya June 6, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Immigration Department personnel round up foreign workers during a raid on a construction site in Cyberjaya June 6, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said there will not be another amnesty programme for undocumented migrants as the foreign worker recalibration from November 2020 was ongoing.

In an interview with The Star, Hamzah said the recalibration has also been broadened to cover more sectors and that the government has introduced a repatriation programme for those willing to return to their home countries voluntarily.

“If we can do that, it will be easier for all parties,” he was quoted as saying.

“This is because they will have proper documentation and they no longer have to run, hide or stay hidden.”

As such, the minister said Immigration enforcement to detect undocumented migrants would continue.

Rejecting views that such enforcement would deter undocumented migrants from participating in the country’s Covid-19 vaccination, Hamzah argued that there was also no guarantee that they would do so without Immigration raids.

“Why would you want to give amnesty to these people when we do not even know their background?

“We must always prioritise the interests of the country and our people,” he said, adding that he hoped Malaysians would understand his responsibility.

“This is an old issue and it has been ongoing for years. I think we have to start somewhere,” he said.

He said that since the start of the recalibration programme, over 200,000 individuals have participated, with about 110,000 applying to stay in the county and the rest requesting to return to their home countries.

He criticised a group of 14 lawmakers who disagreed with the recalibration over allegations of forced labour against some Malaysian companies.

“If they are being victimised by Malaysians (as alleged), we need to correct the situation. How can we correct it if we cannot find these people?

“We have put them in the recalibration plan. Some employers have gone to our depot and applied to allow these people to work for them.

“We have done that. Thousands of them. In the end, they have proper documentation,” he said.

Hamzah said that as of December last year, Malaysia had an estimated 2.5 million registered foreigners, including those with PR statuses, temporary work permits and spouse visa.

“We are not concerned about these groups.

“If we want to vaccinate them tomorrow, we know where they stay, we can do contact tracing, it is all in the open,” he said.

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