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Something is rotten about migrant workers’ entry rules

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There seems to be a complete lack of will on the part of the government to resolve the issue of undocumented migrants, writes John Inbaraj.

Source: Abella & Duncanes, 2009 http://internationalbusiness.wikia.com

Something is seriously wrong with the entire undocumented immigrants issue. There seems to be a complete lack of will on the part of the government to resolve the matter. The fact that undocumented immigrants in the country are present in millions just cannot be understood by citizens of the country.

Is our country’s defence system so bad? Forces involved include the Immigration Department, the Marine Police and the Navy, the Field Force, the Army and the Police. Why is the situation so bad? Why are millions of undocumented migrants on the streets?

Search, search and search for answers and the only conclusion is that the government is all for the influx of such undocumented migrants. Why? Money, Money, Money! Or is the government trying to create a new racial balance? If the government really does not condone undocumented entrants, are we then to believe that our coastline is so porous? Are we to believe that millions of undocumented foreigners can move around and live in our midst without care?

What are the authorities doing about handling the problem? Are we incapable? Don’t we have the resources? Perhaps a Bersih-like demonstration is necessary to jolt the government into action! This situation is really getting impossible to take!

Let’s not say that the 6P programme is set to resolve the problem. On the contrary, this programme is a colossal disaster. A programme that was initiated from the top i.e. the cabinet committee under our DPM and the Home Ministry began with biometric machines being allegedly manipulated. People appointed by the top management…so how authentic is the data collected.

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The implementation of the programme itself was postponed at least three times giving rogue and bogus agents a field day conning poor undocumented migrants, especially. I wonder if this was a deliberate act to allow (selected) agents to cash in on gullible victims. Besides, I hear, that hefty rentals were charged and agents told not to charge any fees at the 1st P stage. Who supplied these machines?

How do all these conditions make sense?

Then we had the police “being shocked” by the sheer number of undocumented migrants in the country and Hishammuddin going on screen quoting numbers (registered via the biometric system) and declaring “ini merupakan satu keadaan yang begitu serius”.

Well done-lah, Hisham! But people on the ground knew it a long, long time ago!

On the other side, we have the Indonesian government making us beg for their domestic workers and the Malaysian government actually begging. Why do we need to? After all millions have come and gone on their own free will. Do the Indonesians actually bother about what their government says? Just hop onto a boat, pay some money here and there and you are safely on Malaysian shores at a much cheaper rate.

Allowing the people to seek and bring their own choice of domestic help into the country through social visit passes and then having them registered seems a perfect solution. The onus is shifted to the employer and the domestic worker to satisfy themselves. We only need a proper monitoring system in place. But domestic worker agencies in Malaysia and Indonesia and the Indonesian Embassy are up in arms. Why? Money again!

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In fact The Sunday Star (4 September) reported that the Indonesian embassy’s minister counsellor for information, social and cultural affairs Suryana Sastradiredja warned Malaysian employers that they could be detained by Indonesian authorities because “direct recruitment violates our laws”.

What audacity! Why is there no rebuke from Hishammuddin? In fact the authorities seem to be considering removing this option once Indonesia starts releasing its domestic workers. Why then condemn a good move? I urge the authorities to keep this option and try to eradicate middlemen altogether.

Part of the exorbitant charges paid to agents come from the blood and sweat of poor domestic workers, who sacrifice six months or more working just to pay off this debt collected in advance. Yet there are people – unscrupulous, shameless people – who feed themselves and their families with such money and without any conscience!

Malaysians need to be safeguarded by the government. People who come to our shores to seek a living too should be properly welcomed and given due respect.

The government had better take heed and sort out this mess. The rumblings on the ground are growing louder. The government’s lack of initiative and desire to eradicate this menace is being pushed beyond the tolerance of the people.

Millions of undocumented migrants! Dare you say, Hishammuddin, that our country’s security is good?

John Inbaraj is an Aliran member based in Penang

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