Malaysia Begins Crackdown on Undocumented Migrants
01 November 2011 – KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Government has started operations against undocumented foreign workers, arresting 193 workers and five employers in three states across the country since 20 October.
Malaysian Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, said the ‘quietly-executed’ operations in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Johor will be followed by larger crackdowns led by the country’s immigration department.
It is still unclear if any refugees and asylum seeks were among the nearly 200 workers who were arrested in the last two weeks.
“The early stage or post-registration operation is against immigrants who failed to register themselves under the 6P registration program, and it will be followed by post amnesty crackdown on a larger scale,” he said after chairing a meeting with states immigration directors in Putrajaya on Monday.
The Malaysian government is planning to deploy hundreds of thousands of enforcement officers and volunteers to detain and expel undocumented foreign workers nationwide as soon as the country’s amnesty program is over by the end of this year.
As of 30 October, 27,514 undocumented foreign workers were ‘whitened’ under the current 6P amnesty program while scores have chosen to leave the country voluntarily in recent months.
Hishammuddin said the enforcement team against undocumented workers for the first time will be using National Registration and Enforcement System (NERS), which enables them to identify a worker’s identity using electronic devices on the spot.
“For foreigners who do not carry documents, the system can check their status using biometric data,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said his ministry is setting up a sub-unit to look into refugees issues while carrying out the ongoing 6P amnesty program.
“We will work closely with related entities, including UNHCR,” he said.
Introduced in late June, the 6P program has sparked deep confusion among refugees and asylum seekers. Many refugees who tried to register under the program were given a slip that says “Tujuan: Pulang Ke Negara Asal (Purpose: Return to Home Country).”
Rights groups in Malaysia have also strongly criticized the program as being “riddled with questions and uncertainties”.
In October, Malaysia announced plans to swap detainees with Burma. The plan involves the exchange of up to 1000 detainees held in each country.
Rights groups have expressed fear that Malaysia might deport Burmese refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom are believed to be detained in immigration depots across Malaysia.
Reporting by Thomas Chong