Malaysia prompts alarm in mi­grant worker crackdown

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has rounded up over 3,000 un­doc­u­mented mi­grant work­ers this month in a ma­jor crackdown, prompt­ing alarm yes­ter­day from law­mak­ers across the re­gion who said the cam­paign was “vic­tim­iz­ing the vul­ner­a­ble”. The rel­a­tively de­vel­oped coun­try is a mag­net for mi­grant work­ers from across Asia, but sev­eral mil­lion are be­lieved to be un­doc­u­mented.

Au­thor­i­ties started round­ing up il­le­gal work­ers after an of­fi­cial pro­gram to reg­is­ter un­doc­u­mented for­eign­ers ended on June 30, and more than 3,100 had been de­tained as of July 11, ac­cord­ing to the im­mi­gra­tion depart­ment. Bangladeshis rep­re­sent the largest group among those de­tained, with sub­stan­tial num­bers also from In­done­sia and Myan­mar. In the lat­est raid late Tues­day, scores of for­eign work­ers at a con­struc­tion site in the coastal town of Port Dickson were rounded up.

The clam­p­down has caused alarm among ac­tivists and in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, and a group rep­re­sent­ing cur­rent and for­mer law­mak­ers from across South­east Asia added their voice to the con­cern. “A de­sire to de­crease the num­ber of un­doc­u­mented work­ers in the coun­try can never be an ex­cuse to fur­ther vic­tim­ize the vul­ner­a­ble,” said Cam­bo­dian lawmaker Mu Sochua, a board mem­ber of the ASEAN Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans for Hu­man Rights.

“While Malaysia has a le­git­i­mate need to ad­dress the fact that so many mi­grants find them­selves with­out proper pa­per­work, it must en­sure that ba­sic hu­man rights are re­spected for all peo­ple at all times.” Aegile Fer­nan­dez, di­rec­tor of prom­i­nent Malaysian mi­grant rights group Te­na­ganita, said the real cul­prits were un­scrupu­lous agents who ex­torted money from for­eign work­ers in ex­change for bring­ing them to the coun­try, leav­ing them sad­dled with huge debts. “Malaysia would not have de­vel­oped so much if not for mi­grant work­ers. We should thank them and not hand­cuff them,” she told AFP. More than 60 em­ploy­ers who al­legedly hired il­le­gal for­eign work­ers have also been ar­rested. Mi­grant work­ers typ­i­cally do jobs spurned by lo­cals, such as on con­struc­tion sites and palm oil plan­ta­tions. — AFP

MALAYSIA: For­eign work­ers wait for their work doc­u­ments to be checked by Malaysian im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer dur­ing an operation to crackdown on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion on the out­skirts of Port Dickson. — AP

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