KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — The deadline for the Manpower and Labour Recalibration Programme allowing undocumented migrants to return home freely was reached at midnight, causing thousands to camp out at Malaysia’s exit points in main airports and ferry terminals.
According to The Star, many were seen sleeping in the car parks and crowding the departure lounges at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
“Hundreds could not even get on their scheduled flights because the counter staff could not handle the huge crowds,” the English daily said.
The report also said that dozens of Indonesian undocumented migrant workers were seen rushing to leave Johor Baru before midnight with a huge crowd gathering at the Stulang Laut ferry terminal awaiting ferries to bring them back to Indonesia.
Mohamad Rizali Noor, the Johor Baru Indonesian consul for social culture affairs, told The Star that they had been anticipating a large crowd in the last few days of the programme and staff were deployed to monitor the situation and provide assistance.
“Those who want to return home need to get a check-out memo from the Malaysian Immigration Department after paying the necessary compounds,” he was quoted as saying.
However, the department could issue only a limited number of check-out memos each day.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said during a news conference at Bukit Aman yesterday that ample warning had been given under the recalibration programme and action will be taken against those who disregard the laws after the deadline.
“The Home Ministry and other agencies will conduct large scale operations to ensure only those who have legitimate passports from their home countries and have valid documentation to work here.
“If you’re arrested and jailed, don’t be upset and blame the Immigration Department or my ministry as we have already informed everyone of this and we have the authority under the Immigration Act,” he said.
The recalibration programme began in November 2020 and allowed undocumented migrants to return home freely.
The original deadline was set for June 30 last year, but extended until December 31, 2021. It was then pushed forward again to June 30, 2022.