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Malaysia launches campaign to deport immigrants
Published in Bikya Masr on 02 - 09 - 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has launched a large scale immigration operation to flush out and swiftly deport nearly a half-million illegal foreign workers, its largest crackdown to date on low-wage migrant labor toiling at plantations and factories, at a time when the economy is showing signs of fatigue. The move began on Sunday.
The move signals the government's resolve to separate the legal from the undocumented immigrant workforce in an effort to cut surplus labor and trim a huge social cost arising from hosting a large population of foreigners, who make up more than 16% of total workforce in a nation of 29 million people.
"In the first phase of this operation that will continue until this year-end, we plan to arrest and deport about 400,000 illegal immigrants and arrest about 45,000 employers of such workers," said Saravana Kumar, a deputy-director at Malaysia's Immigration Department. About 1,000 migrant workers were arrested across the country Sunday, Kumar added.
It also comes after efforts to boost immigrants to the country in order to help with numerous jobs. Earlier this year, thousands of Bangladeshi citizens were given visas in order to work in the country.
The first batch of 10,000 Bangla­deshis to work in Malaysian plantations arrived in February, said Planta­tion, Industries and Com­modities Minister Bernard Dompok.
Malaysia and Bangladesh agreed in November last year that the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers be done on a government-to-government basis.
The return of Bangladeshi workers has been in the works for some time, but is finally getting the green light.
Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam said late last year that a Malaysia-Bangladesh joint committee had been set up, with a representative from the Bangladesh High Commission sitting on it.
"We are now looking into finalizing the MOU and hope to sign it as soon as possible. Our target is the intake of Bangladeshi workers by December this year," he told reporters after the ministry's monthly gathering.
Subramaniam had led a delegation to Dhaka recently after the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers and Illegal Immigrants agreed to the trip following an appeal by Bangladesh for Malaysia to reconsider recruiting Bangladeshi immigrant workers.
Malaysia imposed an indefinite ban on the intake of Bangladeshi workers in 2007 following numerous cases and complaints of exploitation by employers and recruitment agents in this country.

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