Reports lodged against Burmese ‘agents’ for cheating in Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR – 08 September 2013: While numbers of undocumented foreign workers detained under a big scale operation continue to increase, dozens of Burmese nationals have lodged police reports against agents who failed to legalize them under the previous ‘whitening’ program.
26 workers from Burma lodged report against a female agent in Kuala Lumpur for collecting an average of RM4000 (around US$1220) from each of them, accusing her of faling to keep her promise by getting valid working permit for the undocumented workers.
At least one victim was reported caught during one of the raids which altogether detained up to 5,000 undocumented foreign workers within five days. Raids spearheaded by Malaysia immigration department was scheduled to take place until the end of this year.
According to a victim, the agent who is a Burmese national married to a local, promised to assist undocumented foreign workers and those with expired working permit to be registered under the ‘whitening’ program run by Malaysian government.
“I paid the money and even handed my passport. She asked me to wait for telephone calls and I waited and waited until the authorities launched a major raid,” he said as quoted by a local news portal.
He also believed that more victims were cheated by the same agent but most of them refused or got scared to lodge a police report.
“Many of us receive limited education and cannot speak fluent Malay or English, plus we do not have any documents. So I believe only 10 percents of the victims have the courage to lodge a police report,” said the victim.
The raid which was launched on 1 September is aimed to detain and deport undocumented foreign workers following the deadline of the ‘whitening’ program.
Up to 5,000 foreign workers including Burmese, Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Nepalese, Chinese, Indians, Thai, Cambodians and Vietnamese were reported detained in five days during the nationwide raids.
Many employers and foreign workers however complained and lodged police reports claiming they were abused by agents who promised to register them under the previous ‘whitening’ program but soon disappeared with their money.
A local non-government organization, Tenaganita, said the organization have received 690 complaints from foreign workers who were cheated by irresponsible agents.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Friday acknowledged that there were employers and employees being cheated by agents.
He said immigration department will provide opportunity for employers to re-register their detained workers as the countries still need a lot of foreign labors in different sectors.
Ahmad Zahid also said he must act humanely as many of the detained workers were victims of irresponsible agents.
The minister’s statement is somehow different with his previous stand which media quoted him as saying: “We will deport undocumented foreign workers back to their countries of origin as soon as possible.” – Reporting by Thomas Chong