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Thursday, January 29, 2015

PKR lauds Bestinet suspension, but insists Home Minister must come clean

PKR welcomed the suspension of the foreign workers visa processing system and biometric health checks, but said Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi must be transparent in answering question about awarding the contract to a company linked to Putrajaya. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 30, 2015.PKR welcomed the suspension of the foreign workers visa processing system and biometric health checks, but said Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi must be transparent in answering question about awarding the contract to a company linked to Putrajaya. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 30, 2015.
While welcoming the move to suspend the controversial foreign workers visa processing system and biometric health checks, PKR has again urged the home minister to explain why such a contract was awarded to a crony company that has links to Putrajaya.
Sungai Petani MP Datuk Johari Abdul and Semambu assemblyman Lee Chean Chung said Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had an obligation to the public to answer questions about the awarding of the contract.
"We cannot let go of this issue. The home minister has to explain to the people why contracts that have to do with foreign workers management are being given to crony companies and then are suspended one by one," they said today.
The Malaysian Insider reported today that the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS) and biometric health checks were suspended by the Immigration Department earlier this week after criticism from foreign governments and employment agencies.
The contracts for both the systems had been outsourced to private IT firm Bestinet Sdn Bhd which has come under the spotlight because of its directors who are closely linked to Putrajaya.
Bestinet's directors include former home minister Tan Sri Azmi Khalid and previous director of the Labour Department Datuk Tengku Omar Tengku Bot.
The FWCMS and biometric health checks had been criticised by foreign employment agency operators who threatened to stop sending workers to Malaysia.
Critics, including foreign governments, have blasted the biometric system, citing added costs and security concerns over worker information.
Lee said Zahid also had to explain to the Cabinet why the contract for the FWCMS was given to a private company without its approval.
"I remind him that shying away from the media or barring coverage on issue is not a wise decision. As a minister and politician, he may run from the media for a while, but not forever.
"I would also like to remind (Putrajaya) that PKR objects to the privatisation of anything that involves the management of sensitive information related to internal security.
"This irresponsible action will not only bring about risks to the security and sovereignty of the country but will also smear the image of the country," he added.
He said Bestinet's monopoly of the system would only benefit the company that is owned by Umno leaders but would burden employers and foreign workers who would have to pay more to work here.
Johari questioned the rationale of privatising foreign workers' management despite the Immigration Department having done a "good job" all this while.
"Why outsource it to the private sector when they (Immigration) have been doing a good job and a hefty sum is always allocated to the department each year in the Budget?
"Certainly, they need to improve their systems but it has been alright all this time.
"You cannot force the system upon countries like Nepal and Indonesia as well, who have put up resistance and Nepal has even gone to their Parliament about this. How embarrassing," he added.
The PKR lawmaker was referring to reports that Nepal's Parliament had told its government not to implement the biometric health test system, after its committee on international relations and labour made a unanimous decision opposing the system for Nepalese workers.
"The committee has told the government not to enforce biometric health tests for Nepalese wishing to work in Malaysia," lawmaker Prabhu Saha, who led the committee, was quoted as saying.
"The system does not appear appropriate and justified at present in the absence of such facilities in Nepal. This would result in further financial burden on our workers."
Bernama reported that more than 100,000 Nepalese workers left for Malaysia in the first five months of the current fiscal year 2014/2015. An estimated 750,000 Nepalese are currently working in the country.
Indonesian employment agencies were also reported as saying the exorbitant fees were a huge burden to their countrymen who are looking to either work or study in Malaysia and also threatened to stop sending workers to Malaysia. 
- TMI

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