Friday, April 09, 2010

Legalize all undocumented migrants - it will certainly help small/medium businessmen/employers in Malaysia

The number of documented migrant workers in Malaysia was about 2.4 million, and the number of undocumented migrants could be double that number. 

There are about 700,000 undocumented migrants from Burma (Myanmar), of which maybe 10% of these are recognized asylum seekers/refugees. We understand one of the factors why there are many from Burma, is because of political and economic situation under the 'illegal' military junta (that refused to hand back power to the democratically elected government of Aung San Su Kyi). 

Large number of undocumented migrants also come from neighboring Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. 

Sometimes, the 'official and formal' channels created by governments, is just inaccessible to the poor especially. The problem is not just the initial large payments that potential migrant workers need to come out with, but also corruption, etc. As such, many will still just come over in the same manner people were freely moving from place to place in the past ...

Suggestions have been made that employers should be free to engage/employ any migrant worker - and, upon employment inform the relevant Labour Department (and other relevant authorities)  thereby registering and legalizing the employer-worker relationship, and this could also include giving the worker some 'legal documentation' to keep him/her safe from harassment by RELA, police, etc... When the worker leaves, the employer reports to the relevant authority.

This is the procedure when it comes to local Malaysian workers. When the employer employs a worker, the laws places an obligation on the employer to immediately inform Employees Provident Fund (EPF/KWSP), Social Security Organisation (SOCSO/PERKESO), Income Tax Department, etc...and the worker leaves, the employer also informs the relevant departments.

It could be the same procedure for foreign migrant workers. 

No employer wants to hire a worker blindly - and then be bound to that contract to keep that worker for a defined number of years. Likewise, no worker wants to be forced to work for a 'bad' employer for a certain fixed number of years. Both worker and employer wants the freedom of choice...and that is exactly what has been happening in Malaysia especially in the restaurants and other small businesses...(and there have been no problems).

But now, it looks like the badly wounded UMNO-led BN government is lashing out at the 'small people' that rejected it in the last elections. If they crack down and remove all undocumented migrant workers from these smaller establishments, many of these businesses will fail....and close down. No good Malaysian worker is interested in working in restaurants, etc... 

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of business owners are calling on the Government to legalise their foreign workers who are currently employed without proper permits.

The group, consisting of seven associations representing Chinese and Indian restaurant owners as well as other businesses in the services industry, said they needed these workers to continue operating.

Spokesperson for the group Tan Tong Heng said forcing the estimated 150,000 illegal immigrants currently employed in the services sector “into the streets” would give rise to numerous social and security issues.

Tan, who is Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants and Chef Association deputy president, said there were 30,000 foreign workers currently employed without permits in Chinese restaurants and coffee shops alone.

Another estimated 9,000 were working in Indian restaurants.

Tan believed that this represents about 30% of the total number of such workers employed in Chinese and Indian restaurants and coffeeshops.

He was speaking to reporters at the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department at Wisma MCA here yesterday.

Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas) president Datuk R. Ramalalingam Pillai, who was also at the press conference, said his members always try to hire Malaysians.

“But they tend to leave for better offers. We simply cannot afford to pay them that much,” he said.

Tan said the associations handed a memorandum on the issue to Home Ministry special officer Armizan Mohd Ali on April 6 to be forwarded to minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Head of the department Datuk Michael Chong, who is also special officer to Hishammuddin, witnessed the handing over of the memorandum.

Chong agreed that sending the workers home would create more problems.

“At least give the workers permits to stay for a year to allow them to organise the necessary paperwork or financial arrangements to go home,” he said. - Star, 9/4/2010, Businesses want illegal foreign workers legalised

What is the Pakatan Rakyat position on this matter? It will be good to know...

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