PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya has assured the governments of Bangladesh, India and Nepal that their nationals who are working without valid permits in Malaysia would be legalised under the “rehiring programme” which will go on till the end of the year.
The Dhaka-based The Daily Star reported today that Malaysian Immigration authorities also said they would not go on with a crackdown on undocumented foreign workers, so as to facilitate their registration under the process, which involves the issuance of a temporary Enforcement Card or E-Kad.
It said Malaysian Immigration Department Director-General Mustafar Ali gave this assurance to representatives from the three countries who met him on July 17.
The meeting saw the three governments conveying their requests for the crackdown to be halted and for their nationals who are working illegally to be allowed to be legalised, it said.
The report added that Bangladesh was represented by two members, including its high commissioner Md Shahidul Islam at the meeting.
“DG Immigration Mustafar Ali confirmed that all the illegal Bangladeshis living in Malaysia will get the opportunity to be legalised under the ‘rehiring programme’ which will continue till December 31, 2017,” the report said, citing a press release from the high commission to media in Bangladesh on Tuesday.
It said Putrajaya had also asked all the undocumented Bangladeshis in the country to take the opportunity to legalise their status under the programme.
“The immigration authority also assured to facilitate free movement of illegal Bangladeshi workers to visit the immigration office to register themselves in the ‘rehiring programme’ without any fear of arrest or crackdown,” the report said. “But the workers have to obtain letters from their employers first.”
The Bangladesh high commission urged all those affected to obtain legal status as soon as possible by collecting their passports and completing the rehiring programme, it added.
It also quoted the high commission as saying that so far about 393,000 Bangladeshis had come under the registration programme, including for the rehiring and issuance of the biometric E-Kad.
The high commission said around 26 Bangladeshis were in different detention camps facing jail terms of between three months and one year, it added.
The application deadline for the E-Kad for illegal foreign workers officially ended on June 30.
The immigration department did issue a warning that it would arrest illegal immigrants and prosecute their employers under Sections 56(1) and 55B of the Immigration Act 1959/1963, including those employing immigrants with student passes.
On July 17, media agencies in Bangladesh quoted the country’s Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam as saying that Malaysia had suspended its crackdown against Bangladeshis.
He was reported to have told a manpower seminar in Dhaka on June 16 that the high commission was maintaining close contact with the Malaysian government to find a solution to the problem of undocumented workers.