Probe on over issuance of E-kad to foreign workers

LAILI ISMAIL

THE Immigration Department’s E-kad (Enforcement Card) programme has been compromised by improper issuance of the cards.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed yesterday said the department’s branches were being probed to crack down on leakages, adding that preliminary checks revealed that some branches had issued the cards to foreign workers who had not gone through the rehiring programme.

“This is wrong. Those who obtained the cards without going through the rehiring programme must return the cards to the Immigration Department because the Home Ministry will not recognise the document.

“If the police or Immigration Department finds them, the cards will not be valid unless they (the foreign workers) have joined the rehiring programme.”

The investigation, Nur Jazlan told the New Straits Times, would zero in on rogue Immigration officers who had been cashing in on the improper dealings.

“Maybe they were not briefed properly by their superiors.”

The E-kad is a temporary document aimed at providing identification for illegal foreign workers who had applied to become legal ones through the department’s rehiring programme.

“That (the interim period when foreign workers wait for legalisation) can take as long as a month. The rehiring programme ends on Dec 31, hence the one-year validity of the card,” said Nur Jazlan.

Earlier, during a visit to the Western Digital building here, Nur Jazlan said when illegal foreign workers surrendered themselves to the Immigration Department with legitimate employers to join the rehiring programme, a levy would be imposed before the cards were issued.

“However, we found that some branches (of the department) had issued the cards outside of the rehiring programme.

“There are 14 department offices (that are authorised to issue the cards), but not all were involved in the improper dealings.”

Nur Jazlan also sent a strong message to the culprits and those who colluded with the illegal issuance of the E-kad, saying: “We can match the E-kad’s details with data on our database.

“They’d better come forward to return the cards or they will face severe punishment.

“The instructions (on how to issue the E-kad) were clear... The cards cannot be issued to foreign workers who skipped the rehiring programme.”

The department could not be reached for comment.

Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali had, in January, said the government made the decision to legalise certain illegal foreign workers to meet the high demand in some sectors.

He had said employers could apply for the E-kad between Feb 15 and June 30, but warned them not to apply to register their foreign workers through any middlemen.