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Amnesty for illegal workers in Malaysia

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
The Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia assists two female migrant workers who were beaten by their employers and did not pay their salaries. Royal Embassy of Cambodia to Malaysia

The Cambodia embassy in Malaysia yesterday announced the Malaysian government initiated the Undocumented Migrants Recalibration Plan programme to allow illegal migrant workers to return to their country or apply to continue working legally.

According to the announcement, the programme for 15 countries, including Cambodia, extends to workers in four sectors – construction, manufacturing, plantations and agriculture –  in Malaysia, except in Sabah and Sarawak states. It was implemented on November 16 and continues through June 30, 2021.

It said that to apply for legal status, both employers and illegal workers must meet strict requirements and not be blacklisted by the immigration department.

Employers are required to bring workers to a Fomema centre for a Foreign Workers’ Medical Examination and pay a $370 fine per employee via an online portal. They must also pay taxes, document processing fees and visa fees for the workers.

Employees are required to hold a passport with at least 18 months validity and a current Social Visit Pass visa, have a negative COVID-19 certificate valid three days before their interview with immigration and pay a $123 deposit.

It added that both employers and employees must contact the immigration department directly without using a third person or recruitment agency.

“After June 30, 2021, the Malaysian immigration department will start enforcing the law for illegal workers by arresting them and imposing fines,” it said.

Cambodia’s Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said yesterday that there are currently 25,149 Cambodian workers in Malaysia and probably 10,000 illegal workers.

“This amnesty is beneficial to our workers who have not yet fully complied with the laws of Malaysia and now have the opportunity to do so. Working legally benefits the workers, especially because their interests and rights can be protected,” he said.

Imron El, a former Cambodian worker in Malaysia told Khmer Times yesterday that he came back to his homeland last year before the COVID-19 pandemic but he has family members who are still working in Malaysia and wish to return.

“This a good programme by the Malaysian government to give a chance for illegal workers to become legal or if they wish to return to their homeland they can apply to do so,” he said.

According to The Edge Markets website post on November 21, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said the Return Recalibration Programme allows illegal migrant workers to return to their country of origin voluntarily, subject to specific stipulated conditions.

The Labour Recalibration Programme regularises illegal workers in Malaysia as foreign workers who could be employed by eligible employers subject to stringent conditions determined by the government through the Immigration Department and the Peninsular Malaysia Labour Department (JTKSM), he said.

“The plan is for illegal immigrants in the country who wish to work legally and for those who want to return to their countries of origin to do so. We are giving a period up to June 30,” he said.

Through this plan, Hamzah said the government is expected to collect more than $23 million from compounds and other payments imposed on illegal immigrants and employers.

He said that the plan is only for illegal workers from 15 countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh.


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