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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Freeze on new foreign workers, those who hire illegals to be caned

The Cabinet has decided to freeze the recruitment of new foreign workers, with employers only allowed to rehire those who are already working in the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the new ruling is enforced with immediate effect after the decision was made at the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

Under the rehiring programme, he said employers could only recruit existing foreigners, whose working visas had expired, or those who are here working without valid documents.

Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said the deadline for the rehiring programme has also been brought forward to June 30, instead of Dec 31 this year.

He reminded employers and agents that they would be subjected to caning if they were found guilty of harbouring or recruiting illegal foreigners.

He said severe punishment and caning are provided for under the Immigration Act and Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (Atipsom) Act.

"The deputy public prosecutors will push for caning (for such cases).

"It seems that our preventive measures have failed to reduce the influx of foreign workers and therefore, we have to enforce this punitive measure with immediate action," he said after presenting credential letters to village heads in his Bagan Datoh parliamentary constituency here today.

Asked whether domestic helpers would be affected by the new ruling, Zahid said it was a different issue as the matter is being handled by the Human Resources Ministry.

Zahid said the enforcement agencies would intensify efforts to arrest employers and foreign workers who do not take advantage of the rehiring programme.

On the 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers that are supposed to come to Malaysia, Zahid said the issue is considered closed with the enforcement of the new ruling.

By M. Hamzah Jamaludin

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