Serious punishment for those harbouring undocumented migrants

06 Feb 2023 12:33pm
Undocumented migrants who were arrested while trying to breach the national border on Thursday - FILE PIC
Undocumented migrants who were arrested while trying to breach the national border on Thursday - FILE PIC
KUALA LUMPUR - Foreigners who overstay in the country are believed to be protected by syndicates.

According to the Union Network International-Malaysia Labour Centre (UNI-MLC) Datuk Mohamed Shafie BP Mammal, the people behind the syndicate were very cunning in covering their tracks, that they have failed to be detected.

"The tactic is like this, for example, an Indonesian, he goes in and out every week to bring in workers to Malaysia. He lives in luxury because of this 'job'. "The same goes for Nepalese and Bangladeshi citizens. 'Their people' are already there (bringing in workers). These people are hiding behind their own restaurants and eateries.

"So these foreign workers are protected. This syndicate is hard to detect, they are cunning and good at pretending," he told Sinar.

He explained that the syndicate and foreigners are good at adapting to Malaysian culture to ensure that they cannot be sniffed out by the authorities.

"They can change their identity and imitate our ways. For example, they arrive with no beard, but after a while of being here, they grow out a beard, people see them at the surau every day. So who would have thought that they are outsiders.

"They look like Malaysians. It's hard for the police to track because they more or less appear similarly like us," he said.

Last July, the Home Affairs Ministry (KDN) made a shocking revelation when more than 1.2 million Chinese nationals were reported not to leave Malaysia between 2018 and 2021.

According to the entry and exit records of the Malaysian Immigration Department, the arrival of Chinese citizens to Malaysia for the period in question was a total of 7,177,043 people.
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However, the number of Chinese citizens who left Malaysia for the same period was only 5,954,000 people. Hence, the question arose on the number of foreigners from other countries, especially those from Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Vietnam and India who have entered Malaysia, but did not return to their respective countries.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Shafie added that undocumented migrants residing here each have an organisation to look after the welfare of their people.

"These people enjoy living in Malaysia, they have organisations. If for Bangladeshis they have organisations, the same goes for Indonesia and Nepal.

"These people have been living in Malaysia for decades, 20 to 30 years. In addition, to ensure that they remain in Malaysia, some of them married our people," he said.

Mohamed Shafie also revealed that there was a case of an Indonesian citizen who was able to live in luxury by recruiting maids from that country to meet the local market. He explained that the Aceh man managed to earn around RM60,000 to RM80,000 a month and was able to build a luxury residence in his home country.

"The tactic is he would bring in 10 maids (at a time) from there through a back door.

"Having reached here, he keeps them at a condominium and he will contact interested parties. He can 'sell' the maid for between RM8,000 to RM10,000 per person," he revealed.

Meanwhile lawyer Norman Fernandez believes heavy punishment must be imposed on individuals who are found to be harbouring or employing these undocumented migrants. He said they should be punished not only under the Immigration Act 1959/63, but also convicted under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (Amendment) Act 2022.

Norman Fernandez
Norman Fernandez

"I also think that any individual or syndicate including public servants who are involved in bringing or helping foreigners without a permit should also be subject to mandatory punishment or caning," he told Sinar

He added that these groups are traitors to the country and if they are left to be 'in power', they will cause harm to the country.

"Act decisively, and don't give a chance to these people anymore, the government needs to go all out. "These offenders are the ones who will cause the country to be sacrificed at some point in the future," he said.

In the meantime, he asked the immigration department to step up and increase operations continuously to detain this group.

"The public also needs to help by being the eyes and ears while the local authorities must be concerned about the presence of foreigners to ensure that these undocumented migrants cannot carry out business activities here," he said.

Previously, the Malaysian Immigration Department director general, Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said that those who shelter or employ illegal immigrants can be fined up to RM50,000 under Section 56(1)(d) of the Immigration Act and Section 55B of the same act.

According to him, in addition to fines, offenders can also be sentenced to prison or six rounds of caning if they are found to be involved in such activities.