Co-President Gan Ping Sieu On The Amnesty Programme for Undocumented Foreigners
Friday, July 19, 2019
The Home Ministry's Amnesty programme announced yesterday is a regressive move that only aggravates the problem of illegal workers in the long-run. The programme will only temporarily alleviate the ballooning number of foreign workers here.

The government's propensity to keep using this tool over the years has only helped to reinforce expectation among undocumented workers that there would eventually be a way out for them. Worse still, each time the government rolls out this programme, it also said this would be "the last time".

By not keeping to its words about dispensing with the amnesty programme, the Immigration Department is only eroding its own credibility. More disconcerting is that the just announced five-month amnesty programme which starts this Aug 1 is introduced less than 12 months after the earlier "3+1" amnesty programme ended on Aug 31 2018.

One cannot blame migrant workers for wanting to come to Malaysia without proper documentations and wait out until the next amnesty exercise, given the government's track record. Far from resolving the problem of undocumented foreign workers, we are only emboldening them to come and work here without proper documentations in the long-run.

At the heart of this problem is bad governance. As a civil society group that promotes good governance, we hope the government sticks to its words that the upcoming amnesty programme will be the last.

In the long-run, the government needs to come up with strategies to wean our dependence of cheap foreign labour, including promoting automation and enhancing technological adoption.

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