Immigration Dept’s amnesty exercise to repatriate illegal immigrants is bad governance, says group

G. Prakash
Gan said the government's propensity to keep using this tool over the years has only helped to reinforce expectation among undocumented workers that there would eventually be a way out for them. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 — Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) co-President Gan Ping Sieu today described the Immigration Department's Back For Good (B4G) programme as a regressive move that will only aggravate the rising number of illegal workers in the country.

Yesterday, Immigration Department Director-General Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud had said that the department is targeting to repatriate 200,000 illegal immigrants under the new (B4G) programme.

Gan said the government's propensity to keep using this tool over the years has only helped to reinforce expectation among undocumented workers that there would eventually be a way out for them.

“Each time the government rolls out this programme, they will say this would be the last time.

“By not keeping to its words about dispensing with the amnesty programme, the Immigration Department is only eroding its own credibility,” he said in a statement today.

Gan pointed out that the B4G programme is being introduced less than 12 months after the earlier “3+1” amnesty programme which ended on August 31 last year.

“One cannot blame migrant workers for wanting to come to Malaysia without proper documentation and wait out until the next amnesty exercise, given the government's track record.

“Far from resolving the problem of undocumented foreign workers, we are only emboldening them to come and work here without proper documentations in the long-run,” he added.

Gan said at the heart of this problem is bad governance.

“As a civil society group that promotes good governance, we hope the government sticks to its words that the upcoming amnesty programme will be the last.

“In the long-run, the government needs to come up with strategies to wean our dependence on cheap foreign labour, including promoting automation and enhancing technological adoption,” he added.

Khairul was yesterday reported saying that the B4G programme is expected to be implemented from August 1 to December 31 for foreigners who committed offences under the Immigration Act 1959/63 to return home voluntarily.

He explained the B4G programme would only involve illegal immigrants in Peninsular Malaysia and those immigrants who were currently detained at the depots were not allowed to participate in this initiative.

In order to make the programme successful, he said the department would collaborate with the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) on not to detain any illegal immigrants who were on their way to the embassies and immigration offices to complete the needed documents.

Apart from reducing the influx of illegal immigrants, Khairul Dzaimee said the B4G programme was also aimed to save the cost of the depot management as well as to curb social problems such as crime and infection risk.

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