Crackdown against migrants will open up jobs for locals, says minister

Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob (seated right) chats with servicemen and service veterans during his visit to Kampung Sepanggar, Kota Kinabalu, today.

KOTA KINABALU: The military crackdown on illegal immigrants will open up more jobs for Sabahans, Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

He said “Ops Benteng” was aimed at stopping the entry of undocumented migrants, whose influx had caused a serious social problem.

“Many Malaysians have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Our focus is to give jobs to our people first. The foreigners are not our priority right now. Besides, the illegal immigrants should not have been hired at all,” Ismail told reporters during a visit to a navy veteran’s home in Sepanggar, near here.

He said the government was coming down hard on the undocumented migrants because they had entered the country illegally.

Since the authorities did not know their health status, there was a risk they might spread the virus locally, he said.

Ismail also said his visit to the Sepanggar squatters was to extend assistance to military veterans.

He said more than 80,000 veterans had left the service nationwide without any pension and the military was seeking them out to assist them and to have them registered with the government.

He said the federal government had approved a one-off RM500 cash payment to the veterans but they must be registered before the aid deadline in September.

In Sabah, he said, only two-thirds of 16,000 former servicemen without pension had registered while the whereabouts of the rest were unknown.

Ismail said he was concerned that some of them may find it tough to keep their present jobs because of the three-month lockdown.

“We are extending our assistance in the form of food items from Tabung Pahlawan and zakat cash, and now this one-off payment. We want them to register with the ministry quickly before the deadline ends,” he said.

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