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Malaysia to legalise migrant workers from 15 countries

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Cambodians await their flight to Cambodia at a Malaysia airport in July. Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia

Malaysia to legalise migrant workers from 15 countries

The Malaysian government has decided to implement the Undocumented Migrants Recalibration Plan to legalise illegal foreign workers from 15 countries, including Cambodia. These workers may continue to work in the construction, industry and agriculture sectors in Malaysia.

According to a statement issued by the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia on December 8, the legalisation plan, which will continue until June 30, next year, does not include the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

To be legalised through the programme, the embassy said, employers and illegal workers must comply with terms and conditions and are not in the blacklist of the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

Also, all employers and illegal workers are required to pay a deposit of RM500 ($125) and RM1,500 ($375) for each worker’s application via the online system.

The Cambodian embassy said employers must bring their workers to the FOMEMA Centre for medical check-ups and pay taxes (levy), processing fees (PLKS) and visas. Workers must have a passport that is valid for at least 18 months and must not be blacklisted by the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

The embassy also said the legalisation plan is only for workers who have been illegally working in Malaysia during a tourist visit (Social Visit Pass), workers with expired employment visa prior December 31 or are reported of running away from their employer.

“Workers must have obtained a Covid-19 negative test result that is valid for three days before the interview. Employers can apply for workers’ legitimacy by email to [email protected].

“Employers and workers must directly contact the Immigration Department of Malaysia and the Department of Labour of Peninsular Malaysia, without any involvement with third parties or recruitment agencies,” it said.

Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour told The Post on December 9 that there were currently 25,149 Cambodians living and working in Malaysia. Of the number, around 10,000 are with expired employment permits or have switched employers without following standard Malaysian procedures.

“This legalisation [plan] is beneficial to our workers who have not yet properly complied with the laws of Malaysia. They have the opportunity to obtain official employment permits. Working legally is very beneficial for the workers, especially for the protection of their interests and rights,” he said.

Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) programme coordinator Khun Tharo said that under the conditions stipulated by the Malaysian government, most Cambodian workers could face difficulties.

He said most Cambodian illegal workers in Malaysia could not afford the deposit and penalty fee as they are facing hardship and unemployment during the Covid-19 crisis.

“It would be good if the Cambodian government tries to negotiate bilaterally with the Malaysian government to reduce the cost of worker’s penalty,” he said.

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