PUTRAJAYA: A proposal by the Federal Government to issue Temporary Work Permits for illegal immigrants is a short term measure to relieve shortages of labour in plantations and industrial sectors, particularly in Peninsular Malaysia, said PBS President Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili (pic).
He said the move was in response to the urgent requests by employers in light of severe shortages of labour, especially in the industrial and plantation sectors.
“Many states have also been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, thus putting a lot of legal labour out of the labour market.
“Since the number of illegal workers in detention centres is high, and for some states, beyond the carrying capacity of such centres, therefore the Government is considering what has been practised many times in the past.
“It is a form of regularisation, whereby the private sector requesting for foreign labourers can apply to recruit workers through the Immigration and Labour Departments directly from the detention centres, or from the domestic labour market, provided they comply with the strict procedures and conditions set by the Ministry of Home Affairs (Moha),” said Maximus who is also the PBS President.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) added that the move would further help the Government to get these illegal labourers to register themselves during the amnesty period, particularly their personal data and biometric information.
“Those who do not come forward voluntarily during the registration exercise will, of course, be subjected to arrest and deportation,” said Ongkili, adding that the first phase of the operation will be to meet the labour demand in West Malaysia.
He further added that the operation will only be extended to Sabah and Sarawak should there be similar requests for foreign labourers from the plantation and construction sectors in both states.
“In the case of Sabah, an on-going discussion between the Department of Sabah and Sarawak Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office and MOHA is being held for the setting up of a proposed special committee.
“This is to ensure that the management and outcome of the operation will also be part of the strategy to reduce the presence of illegal immigrants in the state.
“There is also a very high incidence of Covid-19 cases affecting most plantation and construction sectors in East Malaysia,” he said.
Ongkili added that a detailed discussion between Moha,, the Labour Department and the Sabah State Government is needed before the proposed exercise is extended to Sabah.
“Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has no problem supporting the noble intention of the programme, on the condition that it is implemented in accordance with immigration and labour laws, managed well and conducted with transparency. PBS will make sure that these strict conditions will be complied with.
“On behalf of PBS, and as a representative in the Federal Government, we advise Sabahans not to simply believe those who are twisting facts, creating rumours and making allegations regarding the proposal of issuing short-term Temporary Work Permits to meet the labour demands by the Sabah plantation and construction sectors,” Ongkili, who is also the PBS President, stressed.
He assured that PBS leaders in the State and local governments will continue to scrutinise, monitor, participate and assist in any capacity to ensure the operation is done in accordance with the law and with strict adherence to the procedures and conditions set by MOHA.-BorneoGazette