Malaysian immigration police arrested over 5,000 undocumented Bangladeshi workers since January 1, Malaysian newspapers reported.
Between January 1 and June 4, Malaysian Immigration Department carried out 7,940 operations during which almost 1,00,000 foreigners were screened, The Malay Mail reported Sunday.
Legal action was taken against 23,295 illegal immigrants, and 8,011 Indonesians were arrested followed by 5,272 Bangladeshis and the rest were citizens of Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and other countries, the report said.
Malaysian home minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that the plan aimed at addressing the influx of illegal immigrants in the country and would involve a strategic cooperation between many relevant ministries and agencies.
‘The objective of the plan is to create an uncomfortable ecosystem for the undocumented expatriates, empower the enforcement agencies and regulatory authorities and enhance strategic cooperation and public awareness,’ he said in a statement.
The minister said that the plan would be implemented in five years.
He said the ministry, through the Immigration Department and with the cooperation from other enforcement agencies especially the Royal Malaysia Police and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, would continue carrying out enforcement operations at locations identified as foreigners’ hotspots.
Over 10 lakh Bangladeshi workers are currently working in Malaysia.
Malaysia based NGO Tenaganita in a message said that despite enforcement efforts by the government to “flush out” undocumented individuals, otherwise known as PATI, these numbers continue to increase every year.
Its Executive Director Glorene A Das said that ‘we would like to distinguish between the use of the term “illegal” and “undocumented”.
She said that no human being should ever be deemed illegal, as to lead a life of dignity is a basic human right, and labelling any individual as “illegal” is dehumanising at the very least.
While Tenaganita fully acknowledges the presence of millions of undocumented persons in Malaysia as an issue which needs to be addressed, a more comprehensive approach is required in a more transparent manner, to tackle the issue effectively. This would require efforts beyond just among government agencies and ministries, involving stakeholders and experts who could provide the necessary insights and resources to create a truly holistic effort.