PETALING JAYA: PSM central committee member Dr Michael Jeyakumar has accused employers of hiding illegal immigrants in order to cut business costs.
The accusation followed a report by Bernama that a total of 36,872 illegal immigrants have been deported to their countries of origin since the launch of Ops Mega in January this year by the Immigration Department.
Speaking to FMT, Jeyakumar said 36,872 was less than 1% of the figures the government had been citing.
“The government has been saying that there are two million legal foreign workers and between three and four million illegals,” he said.
“Obviously, these huge numbers of illegal immigrants are not living on charity. It’s not like Malaysians are so kind that they are harbouring and looking after them.
“They have to work for their living, they’re getting employed.”
He said employers preferred hiring illegal immigrants because it cut down the cost of wages.
“They don’t have to pay them minimum wages, they don’t have to pay for their EPF (Employers Provident Fund), and with legal immigrants you’ve got to pay the levy if you want to hire them.”
He said often, employers were also forced to hire illegal immigrants in order to remain competitive.
“If a sector is using illegals then everyone in the sector is forced to use illegals because if not, you won’t be competitive.
“For example, if you’re running a small plantation and your peers are using illegals and you are honest and use locals and pay them properly, then you can’t compete. So it’s not a personal choice.”
Jeyakmuar, who is also Sungai Siput MP, acknowledged that the huge number of illegals in the country had caused a problem for the bottom 40%.
“In Sungai Siput, there’s a lot of unemployment as a lot of people are looking for jobs – especially young Malays and Indians – can’t get jobs because there are so many of these illegals around.”
However, he said it would be unfair to blame illegal immigrants for this, adding that it was important to find out how they had become illegal in the first place.
“It’s because there’s over-recruitment by the employment agencies who make between RM10,000 and RM15,000 for each person they bring in, whether or not that person gets employment.
“Then once they’re here, they end up becoming illegal either because they run away from employers who abuse them or because their employers cut their work permits after they complain about abuse.”
He urged Putrajaya to stop the privatisation of bringing migrant workers into the country and turn it into a government-to-government effort.
“It’s the business aspect of it that lets a lot of unscrupulous agents who make promises to bring people in and then let them loose in the sense that they can’t go back because of their debts.
“This is what has brought about the large number of illegals in this country, many of whom came in legally.
“There are a lot of illegals and they’re causing problems for our bottom 40%. But the problem is not the illegals, it’s the system in place that creates the overflow of illegals.”