by Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong
in Kuala Lumpur
We call on the Malaysian Government to study the situation of legal and illegal workers receiving treatment in public and private hospitals and clinics in the country, including the annual expenditure
On 22 March, 2002, the Malaysian Government announced an amnesty for illegal immigrants until 31 July, 2002, to apply for legal document to return home. Although there are illegal workers who throng their embassies, there are many more who don't. We do not know the number of illegals. If we take 1.5 million as the figure, then there may be at least two-thirds who remain in this country. Most are Indonesians. They would rather face the stiff penalties.
The Immigration Act stipulates that an illegal faces a maximum fine of RM10,000, or a jail term of not exceeding five years or both with mandatory whipping of up to six strokes.
An employer of one illegal may be fined between RM10,000 and RM50,000 per employee and a jail term of up to one year. If he or she has more than five illegals, then he or she is also liable to a jail term not exceeding five years and mandatory whipping.
There are syndicates specializing in false documents. Many illegals have blue or red identity cards, ICs. We don't know how many possess these documents, albeit the Government has taken action against some members of these syndicates.
Whether they are legals or illegals, they seek help when they are sick or face other problems. Every year, public and private hospitals and clinics treat many immigrants, regardless of whether they possess legal or illegal documents. Other countries with immigrants have the same types of problems. Hence, the Government should investigate the situation of immigrants receiving health and other welfare care.
For example, the Kuala Lumpur Hospital maternity wards have probably over 60% patients who are immigrants. Some come in serious conditions because they don't have antenatal care. We don't know how many have genuine ICs.
This year, the budgetary allocation for medical treatment is RM3.0 billion, out-patients RM106.6 million, in-patients RM210.48 million and obstetrics and gynaecology RM128.1 million. These allocations are for Malaysian citizens. Non-citizens have to pay higher charges. But then, whether a person possesses a genuine or fake IC, he or she still receives treatment.