Indonesian migrant workers flee as Malaysia continues crackdown

Kuala Lumpur (ANTARA News) - Hundreds of Indonesian illegal migrant workers in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Malaysia, are taking refuge in local oil palm plantations and forests to avoid crackdown on illegal migrant workers conducted by the Malaysian Government.

ANTARAs corespondent in Malaysia on Sunday reported that the illegal migrant workers, men and women, fled the "kongsi" or shelter for migrant workers into forests at midnight carrying provisions such as pillows, blankets, drinking water and necessary food supplies.

"I have been staying in this forest for ten days since the E-Card operation commenced in July. I have been here and decided not to return to the kongsi. We have nothing to eat," Abdul Rohim, an Indonesian migrant worker said.

Abdul Rohim fled the migrant worker shelter for failing to follow the rehiring program, which ended on June 30, by the Malaysian Government.

The rehiring program was aimed to help illegal workers get a card so they could be legally employed in Malaysia.

Therefore, Abdul Rohim, who came from Jember, East Java, expected the Indonesian Government to ask the Malaysian authority to extend the program so that he and hundreds of other illegal migrant workers could get the E-Card (Enforcement Card) to continue working legally in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, other migrant worker, Sholehan, of Probolinggo, East Java, said that he had paid an agent to procure the E-Card but the middle man failed to meet their agreement until the end of the rehiring program.

"I had paid 800 RM. It took so long and the card has not been issued. I havent heard about it since. Many of my friends experienced the same thing," Sholehan said.

Sholehan also said that employers have refused to employ migrant workers who fail to show the work permit that he has been two weeks without employment in Malaysia.

He used to work as gardener and moved to do construction projects.

Sholehan said that he wanted to get the work permit to continue working. He had registered himself to the Malaysias 6 P Immigration Program to get a work permit. However, he failed to get the permit issued.

The 6 P Program was implemented in 2011 to reduce the population of illegal immigrants. It was concluded in 2014.

Meanwhile, Indonesia will ask Malaysia to extend its rehiring program that took place from February 15 to June 30, 2017, as part of the efforts to deal with illegal migrant workers.

Indonesia will ask Malaysia to extend the rehiring program and to stop a crackdown on illegal migrant workers, Indonesian Manpower Minister M Hanif Dhakiri said at the Manpower Ministry here, Thursday.

The move is necessary in view of the large number of illegal migrant workers in Malaysia, including those from Indonesia. If the program is extended, coupled with easy and cheap voluntary repatriation program, then many illegal migrant workers will join it, the minister said.

The rehiring program ended with a massive crackdown on illegal migrant workers employed in Malaysia.

Dhakiri remarked the rehiring program, which was started with the registration of illegal migrant workers to secure E-Kad (Enforcement Card) from February 15 to June 30, 2017, was too short. As a result, the participation of illegal migrant workers in the program was not optimum.

The Manpower Ministry will soon send a team of officers to Kuala Lumpur to discuss Indonesias request for the extension of the rehiring program at an informal meeting.(*)