|Govt to offer amnesty for illegals|
By DHARMENDER SINGH
PUTRAJAYA May 21, 2010.The Government will soon offer amnesty again to hundreds of thousands of illegal foreign workers, with the chance to return home without facing action.
To control the entry of foreign workers, the levy will also be increased from next year based on their number in each sector and the workers' skills.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who announced this yesterday, said the integrated biometric identification system would have to be in place before the programme could be implemented.
He said foreigners who entered the country illegally or overstayed after their work permits expired would be offered amnesty once the Home Ministry updated the system.
The biometric identification system is necessary to ensure that we record the entry of all visitors and workers into the country. It will include work to update and coordinate all hardware, software and data managed by different agencies and ministries.
We will leave it to the Home Ministry, namely the Immigration Department, to implement it as soon as possible,” Muhyiddin told a news conference after chairing the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Illegal Workers meeting here yesterday.
The amnesty programme was among 50 recommendations made to the Cabinet committee by the Life Laboratory on Issues of Foreign and Illegal Foreign Workers on ways to resolve various related issues.
Yesterday's meeting, which discussed the recommendations, was attended by representatives from 17 ministries and agencies, including Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan.
This will be the third amnesty programme for foreigners illegally working mainly in plantations, construction sites, factories, restaurants and the domestic maid sector.
Two previous such exercises, conducted in 2002 and 2004, saw hundreds of thousands of such workers heading home.
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress recently urged the Government to make another amnesty offer, saying that the last one resulted in 230,000 taking up the offer.
Muhyiddin said the Government would also be looking into existing legislation and the possibility of introducing new regulations to curb the problem of illegal foreign workers, as it was important to ensure full enforcement once the amnesty period expired.
After the amnesty offer expires, we will act against all those who harbour foreign workers without permits,” he said.
Asked if the Government would bear the cost of sending the workers home, he said it would not bear the full cost as employers were also to be held responsible.
Hishammuddin said each agency or ministry which had work related to foreign workers had their own systems to monitor different aspects of foreigners in the country.
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