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Monday, May 31, 2021

Migrant workers don't pay tax - Immigration DG defends raids

 


Immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud has refused to budge from his hardline position regarding undocumented migrants in Malaysia, saying his department was committed to going after them.

"We are going after undocumented migrants who live and work in this beloved country without any documents, not paying tax and levy but reap all the benefits.

"We are protecting the rights of local people," he said on Twitter.

Khairul (above) was responding to a letter entitled "Spare a thought for migrant children, families, Mr Home Minister" penned by long-time child refugee activist Hartini Zainuddin and shared by World Health Organisation (WHO) Science Council member Prof Adeeba Kamarulzaman.

Hartini in her letter had spoken of her sadness after a refugee child queried her on Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin's avowed intention to crack down on undocumented migrants.

"I cannot change the minds of those who insist that the poor and marginalised foreigners include those who have fled their countries in fear or have been born and raised in this country.

"They are deemed as pariahs in this country that we must get rid of.

"I cannot change the minds of those who parrot old and outdated policies that have nothing to do with the Federal Constitution or best interest of the child, and everything to do with 'kowtowing' to political views and promoting xenophobia," wrote Hartini.

Khairul's statement was immediately challenged by Twitter users who asked what were these wonderful benefits undocumented migrants enjoy and how he planned to address the situation of those who came in with official documentation, escaped exploitative and dangerous work conditions, and are now undocumented.

"What benefits are they reaping exactly? They pay full price for healthcare, (have) no social protection, no workplace protection, no EPF & Socso.

"They work here (create profit) and spend money here (sustain economy). There are many reports that they become illegal due to employers," the director-general was asked.

Khairul has long been under fire from human rights and refugee advocacy groups for a string of actions that included the forced repatriation of Myanmar nationals - right after their military staged a coup in their country - in defiance of a Kuala Lumpur High Court stay order.

On Feb 16, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had said undocumented foreign nationals will not be arrested when they come forward for Covid-19 vaccinations, adding that this assurance was crucial in ensuring herd immunity was achieved.

He also said the government would work with various groups including employers, NGOs and foreign embassies to encourage foreign workers and refugees to register for the vaccine.

However, on Saturday, Hamzah took a hardline stance, saying that law enforcers are prepared to make more arrests against those found flouting Covid-19 SOPs during the two-week lockdown beginning June 1.

He said this will include arrests at sea and at illegal routes to stop the entry of undocumented migrants. There will be joint inspections on migrant settlements nationwide as well.

"SOP compliance must be enhanced, particularly at illegal routes used as migrant landing points.

"As for the Immigration Department, we have discussed, there must be joint operations with the National Registration Department because we feel it has been a year of various SOPs and MCOs [...] if there are those still stubborn, I mean the migrants, we will arrest them, we will make sure the prisons are ready," said Hamzah, adding that steps were being taken to boost capacity at prisons and immigration detention centres.

Khairy has said that his ministry would talk to the Home Ministry on what should be the priority for the government right now, from a public health standpoint. - Mkini

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