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Saturday, October 31, 2020

PBS backs plan to legalise undocumented workers with conditions

 


Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) said it was offering conditional backing for Putrajaya's plan to allow undocumented migrants to work in the plantation and industrial sectors.

Its president Maximus Ongkili said his party supported the plan on the condition that it was implemented in accordance with immigration and labour laws.

"The plan must be well managed and conducted with transparency. PBS will make sure that these strict conditions will be complied with," he said.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said his administration was considering temporary work permits for undocumented foreigners to overcome labour shortages in the oil palm and rubber industries.

He said there were proposals for a one or two-year work permits to solve labour shortages after Malaysia closed its borders to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Ongkili, who is also the federal minister for Sabah and Sarawakian affairs, explained that the government was dealing with a high number of foreigners in detention centres and that such amnesty measures have been carried out before.

"It is a form of regularisation, whereby the private sector requesting for foreign labour can apply to recruit workers through the Immigration and Labour Departments directly from the detention centres, or from the domestic labour market, provided they comply with the strict procedures and conditions set by the Ministry of Home Affairs," he said.

Ongkili said the first phase of the plan will focus on Peninsular Malaysia and will only be extended to Sabah and Sarawak should similar requests be made by industry players there.

"In the case of Sabah, an on-going discussion between the Department of Sabah and Sarawak Affairs in the Prime Minister's Office and the Home Ministry is being held for the setting up of a proposed special committee.

"This is to ensure that the management and outcome of the operation will also be part of the strategy to reduce the presence of illegal immigrants in the state.

"There is also a very high incidence of Covid-19 cases affecting most plantation and construction sectors in East Malaysia," he said.

Ongkili said PBS considered the plan "noble" and urged Sabahans not to believe rumours about the programme.

He assured that PBS leaders in the state will continue to ensure that the plan, if implemented in Sabah, will be done in accordance with the law and with strict adherence to the conditions set by Putrajaya.

Sabahans have long held a distrust of the government in terms of the naturalisation of foreigners who entered the state illegally from the Philippines and Indonesia, among others.

According to the Department of Statistics, an estimated 29 percent of Sabah's population was made up of non-citizens in 2019. - Mkini

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