Urge the government to review the current policy of not legalising illegal foreign workers in Malaysia

I urge the Federal Government to review its current policy of not legalising illegal foreign workers who are currently in Malaysia.

Currently, the government takes a very harsh attitude against illegal foreign workers who are now in Malaysia. On 5th June, 2018, the Human Resource Minister, M.Kulasegaran, had warned stern actions against employers employing illegal foreign workers and that there will be strict enforcement of the immigration laws. Home Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in his reply in Parliament on 30th October, 2018 has indicated that the Government will not legalise illegal foreign workers that are currently in the country on the ground that many such exercises of legalising of illegal foreign workers had been implemented in the past and that a firm and clear message has to be sent that the government will no longer entertain the employment of such illegal workers.

The current harsh policy of the Government has and is causing many illegal foreign workers in Malaysia to leave or be deported by the Government, causing many sectors that have been reliant on them to face a labour shortage.

In view of the admission by the Human Resource Minister recently that the nation is still in dire need of workers in various sectors including in the agriculture sector (he was even willing to consider taking foreign workers from as far as Africa), I urge the Government to immediately reconsider the current position taken by the Government.

I am against the illegal entry of any foreigners to Malaysia. However we have inherited a problem of an estimated four (4.0) million illegal foreign workers from the past BN Government. Our nation has come to rely on them to work in our 3Ds (Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult) jobs which are shunned by many local Malaysians. Therefore at the moment we still need this work force until a solution is found. Instead of getting the work force from a foreign land which will mean more costs and expenses for the employers and the incoming employees, it is best to utilise those who are already in our country.

The past exercises on legalising illegal foreign workers had not been comprehensive enough to successfully legalise all the illegal foreign workers in the country because employers were required to apply for them at the Home Ministry office alone in Putrajaya. It was a well-known fact that many employers had to queue up as early as 3 AM in the morning just to apply for the legalisation of their workers. Many were disappointed as the Home Ministry could not accommodate the huge number of applicants causing many to leave the Home Ministry Office at Putrajaya empty-handed.

In order for the exercise to be successful, offices receiving the application should be accessible to the employer with ease and I suggest that all immigration offices around the country be permitted to process the applications.

The legalisation of illegal foreign workers has many positive traits. Firstly, the Government will get additional billions of Ringgit in levy charges. Secondly, it will stop the rampant corruption where local police/immigration officers are paid “protection money” for not taking action against such illegal foreign workers or upon arrest, be bribed to release them. Thirdly, the foreign workers will not have to live in fear and be vulnerable to abusers. They should rightfully be accorded the dignity due to a human being. Fourthly, bringing in fresh foreign workers from their countries of origin would mean additional expenses and cost for the employers and the incoming foreign workers.

Finally and most importantly, they meet the labour shortage currently faced by our nation especially in the 3Ds jobs that are shunned by many Malaysians. It is now difficult to attract foreign workers to our 3Ds jobs because our surrounding countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand have improved economically. There are now ample job opportunities with reasonable pay in these countries. Furthermore, our Malaysian Ringgit has depreciated by about 25% in the last 6 years, making the take-home pay of these foreign workers in Malaysia to reduce significantly. The legalisation of the illegal foreign workers in Malaysia will be a win-win situation for both our nation and the illegal workers.

Ngeh Koo Ham
MP for Beruas
Media statement by Ngeh Koo Ham in Parliament on Thursday, 4th July 2019