Press Releases

Tenaganita's Respond To : Home Minister, Tan Sri Dato' (Dr.)Haji Muhyiddin's planned Crackdown on Undocumented Migrant Workers

07 Jun 2018

Tenaganita strongly urges the Home Minister, Tan Sri Dato' (Dr.)Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd to carefully think through the consequences of the planned  crackdown on undocumented migrant workers, when the rehiring program ends on June 30.


The Member of Parliament for Klang, Charles Santiago  from Pakatan Harapan has advanced some very cogent arguments based on human rights as to why the Home Minister should rethink the planned crackdown on undocumented migrant workers (Free Malaysia Today, 6 June 2018). Without repeating those arguments, Tenaganita fully endorses MP Santiago’s views on this matter.


Additionally, Tenaganita would point out , so as to experience has shown, that "large scale enforcement operations “(a euphemism for brutal, inhumane arrests and detention)” have consistently failed  to produce any beneficial results, except for venal enforcement personnel and unethical agents.


If the number of undocumented migrant workers is anywhere close to the conservative estimate of 5 million, the transportation and housing of the detained persons would result in logistical nightmares, setting the stage for more abuses, corruption and inefficiencies.


Already, detention centres are overcrowded, intolerable, unhealthy and the subject of many horror stories of abuse and corruption from ex-detainees. The planned crackdown will undoubtedly further aggravate the situation, and it is important that careful planning is done before such operations are carried out on a large scale.


Considering that most of the undocumented migrant workers are productively employed, their sudden removal from the labor market through the massive arrest and detention exercise will most certainly cause major disruptions in many crucial sectors of the economy. That is exactly what happened in 2017, and on earlier occasions, when a similar major crackdown / raid on undocumented migrant workers was implemented.


For example the construction industry came to a virtual halt and oil palm plantations incurred losses of millions of Ringgit when undocumented migrant workers were detained and deported on a large scale. 


In 2017 in the wake of a similar exercise by the Immigration department, Datuk Seri Tan Thian Poh of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia said “small businesses would be most affected. … SMEs will be badly affected as most of them are not eligible to employ foreign wor kers legally”(Staronline 3 July 2017”.


Little has changed since then, and we can expect the same lament, come July 2018.


The  Home Minister’s concern over the current unmanaged situation of migrant workers is understandable, but Tenaganita hopes that  the new Harapan Government will not unthinkingly slide into the ways of the old, which have proven to be unmitigated failures on many occasions. New approaches are required so that migrant workers, documented or otherwise are managed efficiently with due consideration for their rights as workers and human beings.


For that to happen,  it is important that careful analysis of the mistakes of the past is carried out, based on a good understanding of the realities on the ground. 

Tenaganita, which has been directly working with migrant workers for more than a quarter of a century, is prepared to work with all agencies of the government, to assist in formulating a comprehensive, coherent and rights-based policy for the management of migrant workers.



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