At least 328 undocumented Bangladeshi workers were detained in Malaysia on Saturday when the immigration department began an indefinite crackdown to flush out foreign workers staying illegally.
Malaysian authorities launched the crackdown immediately after the deadline to apply for the temporary Enforcement Card (E-Card) expired on Friday night.
According reports of Malaysian news BERNAMA at least 175 undocumented Bangladeshis were detained in Johor Bahru, five in Alor Setar, 132 in Kota Bharu, 11 in Melaka, four in Kuahtan and one in Ipoh.
Led by Malaysian immigration department director-general Mustafar Ali during the crackdown two workers’ dormitories were raided at Batu 7 Kapar, Klang, reported BERNAMA.
Mustafar said that no leniency would be shown to either the employers or the immigrants without valid documents.
He was quoted as saying that the illegals would be hunted down during the crackdown to be carried out on daily basis.
When contacted, Bangladesh High Commission’s labour counselor Md Sayedul Islam told New Age on Saturday that they were yet to get official information of how many Bangladeshi workers had received E-cards and how many of them were arrested.
‘However, we came to know that more Bangladeshis got the E-cards after they arrived Malaysia by sea without valid documents,’ he said.
He said that the Malaysian government introduced the E-cards on the request of prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
Replying to a question, the labour counselor said that the undocumented Bangladeshi workers who failed to get the E-card could apply to get themselves legalized under the ongoing rehiring system that would continue until December.
Sayedul Islam informed that over 2.5 lakh Bangladeshis have so far become legalized under the rehiring programme that was started in February 2016.
According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, over 7.90 lakh Bangladeshi workers got jobs in Malaysia since 1978.
The E-Card will act as a temporary validation to allow foreign workers who do not have valid documents to work there.
As the E-Cards are due to expire on February 15, the cardholders must obtain a valid travel document from the embassies of their respective countries for the purpose of obtaining a work permit or face deportation.
Only 1,61,056 E-Cards were issued by
Malaysia, 28,375 to the employers and 1,45,571 to the workers.
Malaysia expected that at least 6,00,000 illegal immigrants would take the E-Cards, said media reports.
In Johor Bahru, the immigration department checked 680 foreign workers before detaining 315 in operations conducted at three plastic factory premises in Taman Gembira, Tampoi industrial estate.
Johor Immigration Director Rohaizi Bahari said that the detained included 175 Bangladeshis, 90 Nepalese, 26 Myanmar, and 24 Indians aged between 20 and 40.
The crackdown codenamed ‘Ops Mega’ was carried by 70 Immigration officers from the morning to the midday.
In Alor Setar, 20 illegal immigrants, comprising 14 Indonesians, five Bangladeshis and a Myanmar national, were arrested in a raid at a supermarket construction site in Ampang Jajar.
In Kota Bharu, 147 foreign male workers were arrested in a raid at an affordable housing project area here. They comprised 132 Bangladeshis, 10 Pakistanis and five Indonesians, aged between 25 and 50.
Kelantan Immigration Department director, Wan Mohamed Saupee Wan Yusoff said the raid which started at 11am was conducted by 31 officers and personnel of the department.
He said 1,091 illegal immigrants in the state applied for the E-Card through 229 employers.
In Melaka, 204 foreign workers were screened before 23 illegal immigrants, including a woman, were detained in a special E-Card operation at a construction site around Batu Berendam, Tanjung Minyak and Bukit Rambai.
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