Muhyiddin: We will launch holistic plan to combat migrant problem
A holistic plan on enforcement against undocumented migrants will be launched next year to combat in a comprehensive manner the influx of undocumented migrants in the country.
The plan is to ensure Malaysia achieves zero undocumented migrants in the set period through the strengthening of governance and the existing enforcement work system.
Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the holistic plan entailed strategic co-operation among the various ministries and related agencies based on firmer law enforcement and more effective action.
He said the flood of undocumented immigrants should be tackled through firmer enforcement and legal action so that such a scenario would not remain a national issue with a negative impact on the country’s social and legal aspects.
"This year, we achieved a lot of success in terms of combating the undocumented migrants' problem and this plan outlines the programme or measures for the next five years, and I will start it in 2020.
"Through this plan, we want to ensure the level of existence of undocumented migrants will drop annually until a stage where there are no more foreign workers entering or working illegally in the country,” he told Bernama recently.
The holistic plan, drawn up by the ministry in June this year, also involves the state governments, local authorities, Village Community Management Councils, and Village Development and Security Committees.
Its objectives include creating an ecosystem that is uncomfortable for undocumented migrants to continue with their daily life by boosting the capability of existing enforcement and regulatory agencies and enhancing strategic co-operation and local community awareness.
The plan outlines five strategies for eradicating the undocumented migrant problem - enforcement operation, legal and policy, border control and entry point, management of foreigners, and media and publicity.
With the launch of the plan, Muhyiddin (photo) foresees the Home Ministry would no longer have to conduct any amnesty programme, like what the government used to do previously.
He said amnesty programmes gave the wrong signal to foreigners that anyone could enter and stay in Malaysia without documents because eventually, they would be “pardoned” although they were in the country illegally.
"Although illegal, they dare to enter because they think Malaysia is not firm in terms of immigration regulations and the like, and clearly this is the wrong signal,” he added.
Muhyiddin said the implementation of the Back For Good (B4G) programme for undocumented migrants on Aug 1 this year is an early initiative by the government to rid Malaysia of undocumented migrants.
The programme, which ends at midnight on Dec 31, gives an opportunity to foreigners who have committed offences under the Immigration Act 1959/63 (Act 155) to voluntarily return to their country by paying an RM700 compound.
The programme, which targets to deport up to 300,000 foreigners, is conducted in Peninsular Malaysia only by the Immigration Department, without the involvement of third parties like vendors or agents, to ensure transparency.
"The most important thing for us is how to tackle the undocumented migrants who have settled here before the holistic plan takes effect next year.
"Maybe their original aim of coming was to work but they persisted in overstaying to the extent of committing other things like crime, and this is what we are paying attention to,” Muhyiddin said.
As of Dec 15, the Immigration Department had recorded more than 130,000 undocumented migrants applying to join the B4G programme, with Indonesians accounting for the highest number at 53,328.
On the status of foreign workers in industrial sectors still in need of their services, Muhyiddin said the existing policy would continue and the Home Ministry would ensure they were used to meet the needs of the industries concerned.
The ministry, he said, would ensure that activities not consistent with the laws on foreign workers, like oppression and human trafficking, did not occur to ensure Malaysia’s position in the United States’ State Department Annual Report, which is now on Tier 2 Watchlist, would be maintained or improved.
“Although the number of such cases is not big, I want it to be given attention and for us to be careful in managing this matter, especially relating to oppression and human trafficking when managing and tackling immigrants in the country,” he added.