Malaysian immigration department has detained 5,272 Bangladeshi workers among other nationals between January 1 to June 4 this year amid the country’s stringent actions against undocumented foreign workers.
During this time, the immigration department carried out 7,940 operations nationwide, involving checks on over 100,000 foreigners and took actions against 23,295 undocumented foreign workers, reports Malaysian newspaper Free Malaysia Today, quoting a statement by Malaysian Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Sunday.
Of those detained, 8,011 are Indonesians, 5,272 are Bangladeshis, and the rest include workers from Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand, the report read.
“In the five months between January 1 and June 1, 2019, some 26,116 illegal immigrants were sent back to their respective countries,” the statement said.
The number of Bangladeshis jailed or deported back to Bangladesh could not be known.
Malaysia is home to some 800,000 Bangladeshis. Of them, some one to two lakh are estimated to be undocumented. Bangladesh has repeatedly requested Malaysian authorities to regularise the undocumented workers, but the latter has reportedly denied.
According to migrant rights bodies, fraudulence by Malaysian agents and abuses by the employers contribute to the workers being undocumented. They too have called for Malaysian government to regularise undocumented foreign workers before fresh labour recruitment from Bangladesh.
In Sunday’s statement, Malaysian Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said his ministry is developing a comprehensive and holistic enforcement plan to tackle the issue of undocumented foreign workers.
The plan will be implemented over five years and will involve strategic cooperation between federal and state agencies, as well as local councils and village community management councils.
The objective of the plan is to make it uncomfortable for illegal immigrants to continue their daily lives through the increased strategic cooperation between enforcement agencies and greater public awareness.
The ministry statement said the plan contained five main strategies: enforcement; legal and policy; border controls; management of illegal migrants; and media and publicity.
The ministry said the illegal immigrant issue is a cause of worry for the public and that it will continue to carry out enforcement operations against illegal immigrants.
The ministry added that in the same period, legal action was taken against 605 employers under the Immigration Act.
Employers who bring in illegal immigrants to work can be fined between RM10,000 and RM50,000 or jailed for up to one year, or both, for each illegal immigrant hired.