Do we know how to regulate foreign workers?

Do we really know how many foreign workers here are legal and how many are illegal? I guess we don’t. If we did, I am sure we would know where and how to find them.

Each time an incident occurs involving foreign workers, news reports will inevitably say that these workers were without proper documentation and permits. I am referring to the fatal accident involving 15 workers riding in a five-seater van driven by another illegal worker on the highway near Gunung Semanggol, Perak.

Did the driver have a proper and valid licence? Did he know how to drive on our expressways? Have we not foreseen the danger they pose to themselves and others?

Why have we become so lawless today? Not only have syndicates brought them in illegally, they also allow these workers to roam freely, travelling from one place to another in dangerous conditions on their own.

I don’t think this was an isolated incident. Just look around: have we not seen “suspicious people” driving motorcycles and vans on our road and highways? Do they know how to drive and do they have proper licences and insurance? What would be the recourse if accidents involving third parties occur?

I accept that the country needs foreign workers. But do we know how to regulate and control them? What about the countless syndicates said to be bringing these workers into our country? Do we know who they are and how they can operate so easily? Why has lawlessness become so pervasive in our country?

I just don’t believe how we could have become a country so riddled with inefficiency and poor governance. I think we refuse to admit it, and I read this as a sign of the endemic corruption now permeating the whole administration. Nobody cares and everything goes.

If the new government is going to pride itself on integrity and good governance, then we should see some changes soon. The changes we would like to see are not another blueprint, proposal or report printed on glossy paper, but real action on the ground.

To begin with, may I know who is really in charge of foreign workers: the home ministry, the police, immigration, human resources ministry, Labour Department, or occupational safety and health? In the past, they just followed the big money, but now I am not sure. So please tell us.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.