Illegal immigrants in Malaysia

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Illegal immigrants in Malaysia comprise a substantial portion of the Malaysian population with most of them coming from the nearby Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and other Asian countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India and China.

Etymology[edit]

In Malaysia, the term "illegal immigrant" usually refers to an alien who enters the country without any proper documents or those who enters legally but overstays, thus abusing their passport or visa. This also include to those who are using false identities to live on the country.[1]

History[edit]

Malaysia with most of its Southeast Asian neighbours are not the signatories of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, thus have maintained that any newly arrival aliens are illegal immigrants rather than refugees.[2] Since early 1970s, Malaysia has allowing other Muslims who stuck in a conflict on their countries to seek refugee in Malaysia especially to the Filipino Muslims in the Southern Philippines.[3]

Also in 1975, Malaysia accepted thousands of Cambodian Muslims who had fled Cambodia during the administration of Pol Pot regime. During the Indochina refugee crisis, Malaysia continued to allow a select number of Cambodian Muslims to locally integrate, assisted by the Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organisation (PEKIM), who received funds both from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Malaysian Government.[3] Starts from 1980, Malaysia permitted the local settlement for Rohingya Muslims and Acehnese Muslims who both fleeing the Muslims persecution in Burma and Aceh insurgency in Indonesia.[3]

Criticism[edit]

Political agenda behind massive influx of illegals[edit]

The power to provide a shelters for this illegal immigrants has been misused by several individuals mostly from the National Registration Department (NRD), when the most serious cases had happened on the east Malaysian state of Sabah to allow thousands of Filipino Muslims acquire the Malaysian identity card through a secret project known as Project IC.[4] It is evidenced that this was done due to a network connection by their own people who are already in Malaysia to bring the other relatives from their own countries. For example, the Pakistani syndicate has a largely Pakistani clients while others syndicate such as from Burma and Indonesia also have their own clients. This is similar to the Filipino cases as when their document producing network expand, they also started to bring more illegal immigrants from their own ethnic community to live here and become Malaysian citizen.[5][6] Further investigation revealed that the corruption of local authorities and illegal issuance of identity cards had played an important role on the high increase of this illegal immigrants especially in Sabah.[7] Former Prime Minister such as Mahathir had continuously support the influx of these illegals, saying they should be given citizenship.[8] As stated by some source, the Malaysian Government has their own political purpose[9][10] and want to stop the territorial dispute over Sabah with the Philippines by providing such shelters to these Filipino Muslims without knowing these immigrants will betraying Malaysia in the future as evidenced on the 2013 intrusion and the recent kidnappings.[3][8][11][12] The security command in Sabah ever mentioning;

Furthermore, during the uncontrolled influx of Vietnamese boat people to Malaysia, the Malaysian Government felt this would threaten its national security and its racial balance as most of these Vietnamese refugees resemble the Chinese people.[13] For the Malaysian Government, the United States are the one who should be blamed on the Vietnamese refugee problems due to causing the Vietnam War to happened and led to a large massive influx of these illegals to Vietnam neighbours.[13] This phobia resulted from two tragedies that had happened to Malaysia in the past, the 1964 which led to the separation of Singapore and 1969, both between the Malay and Chinese. While thousands of Muslim illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries such as the one from the Southern Philippines and Sulawesi, Indonesia continued to be given permission to lived in this country without any restrictions and prediction on what problems they may posed in the near future. Some Sabahan Muslims MP and State Assembly such as Rosnah Shirlin and Abdul Rahim Ismail had even felt the problems brought by the Filipinos Muslims today, Rosnah quote;

Rahim support this by saying;

During a recent Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah, a number of revelations on the granting of citizenship to illegal immigrants was revealed. A former National Registration Director, Mohd Nasir Sugip revealed that he was part of a top secret operation called 'Ops Durian Buruk' (Operation Rotten Durian),[18] whereby the Election Commission of Malaysia and then deputy former Home Minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub instructed his department to issue national identity cards to foreigners to change the voting demographics in Sabah.[19] During this process of granting national identity cards, the names of 16,000 illegal immigrants were changed under instructions of the Sabah Election Commission.[20] Also former Sabah NRD director Ramli Kamarudin revealed that former Sabah Chief Minister Osu Sukam was present when Megat Junid gave instructions to carry out the project IC exercise.[21]

Several witnesses who benefited from the citizenship for votes scheme have corroborated this assertion, including a Filipino man who said that he was given his identity card without applying for it.[22] Further two witnesses from India and Pakistan said they received identity cards in less than 10 years, instead of going through the normal process of getting permanent residency in 12 years and undergoing naturalisation after being in Malaysia for 10 years more.[23]

Upon to know this, the secret project had angered many Sabahan natives including neighbouring Sarawak who are the close brother to Sabah. This was mainly due to many original natives who are mostly Christians are still stateless while the newly arrival illegal immigrants can hold Malaysian identity cards in just a short period through the secret project just because they are Muslims.[24]

Corruption, porous border and weak security[edit]

Beside political agenda, there is also a report that some of these illegal immigrants attempts to apply to become Malaysian security force members by using their fake identity cards.[15] This has been proved during the searching operation of further members of the Sulu terrorists in Sabah when one of the detained are Malaysian police corporal who have a family ties in the southern Philippines. He was believed to have aided terrorists to illegally entering Sabah and leaving the state.[25] There is another serious case when a security guard from Tawau, Sabah shot dead a bank worker in Subang Jaya, Selangor and robbed a bank there. Initial investigation found the security guard only possess a fake identity card and not a Sabahan citizen.[26] The suspect identified as an Indonesian coming from Sulawesi.[27] Some politician such as Kit Siang even questioned how the security guard can get a MyKad to enabled him work in the bank. He quote;

Apart from Sabah, the porous border in the Straits of Malacca between Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra also became the hole for Indonesian illegal immigrants to enter and escaped the country. This was noticed in 2014 when these illegals frequently sank on the sea due to their overloaded boat to avoid detection from the Malaysian authorities.[29]

Human trafficking issues[edit]

In 2014, Malaysia together with Thailand and Venezuela was listed at the third and lowest tier by US Department of State. This was due to Malaysia only doing a little progress to combat the exploitation of foreign migrant workers who are routinely subjected to forced labour conditions and those who had been recruited under false pretenses and later coerced into sex work.[30] Many Rohingya refugees who want to seek a better life in Malaysia have frequently fall in the hand of human traffickers, such as what already happened on northern Malaysia when the traffickers kept them in a houses, beating them, depriving them of food, and demanding a ransom from their families.[31] Beside that, a large numbers of Vietnamese and Chinese traffickers have shifted their prostitution business to Malaysia which making Vietnamese women at the top list of foreign prostitutes in the country.[32] The traffickers tactic usually cheat the victim by offering them jobs in Malaysia with high salary, but once they arrived to meet the trafficker (who have disguised himself as the manager), the victim will be brought and locked in a house, raped and forced into sex work.[33][34]

Counter-measures[edit]

Amnesty program[edit]

In 2011, Malaysia launch an amnesty programme with codenamed '6P' to reduce the number of illegal immigrants. The 'P' stands for six Malay words beginning with the letter which mean; "Pendaftaran" (registration), "Pemutihan" (legalisation), "Pengampunan" (amnesty), "Pemantauan" (supervision), "Penguatkuasaan" (enforcement) and "Pengusiran" (deportation).[35] All illegal immigrants were given three weeks to take up the offer or face the law if they are arrested without any valid travel documents or work permits.[36] However, some irresponsible people have taken advantage of the loopholes of its implementation, thus, there is a call to strengthen the programme by monitoring management companies who have been appointed as intermediaries between employers and illegal foreign workers.[37]

Crackdown[edit]

The crackdown on illegal immigrants have been carried out frequently by the Malaysian authorities, sometimes without any notice. Since 2014, crackdowns have been more frequent as many illegal immigrants have been found to be using permits of the locals to operate businesses.[38]

Detention and deportation[edit]

Through detention, the illegal immigrants will be imprisoned, caned and finally deported. This was done to help regulate immigration and to remind them to return to their home countries by letting them know to "not flout the law again".[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ OECD (25 January 2002). Migration and the Labour Market in Asia 2001 Recent Trends and Policies: Recent Trends and Policies. OECD Publishing. pp. 236–. ISBN 978-92-64-19610-0. 
  2. ^ Franklin Ng (1998). The History and Immigration of Asian Americans. Taylor & Francis. pp. 177–. ISBN 978-0-8153-2690-8. 
  3. ^ a b c d Sara Ellen Davies (2008). Legitimising Rejection: International Refugee Law in Southeast Asia. BRILL. pp. 145–. ISBN 90-04-16351-4. 
  4. ^ Stephanie Lee (17 July 2013). "Sabah RCI: Senior NRD official provided a list of 60,000 illegal immigrants with IC". The Star. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Tharanya Arumugam (3 December 2014). "RCI: Filipinos with IC would bring family members to Sabah". New Straits Times. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Kamal Sadiq (2 December 2008). Paper Citizens: How Illegal Immigrants Acquire Citizenship in Developing Countries. Oxford University Press. pp. 60–. ISBN 978-0-19-970780-5. 
  7. ^ a b "Illegals: Graft, illegal issuance of ICs, councils blamed". Daily Express. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Murib Morpi (12 September 2013). "Illegals to remain major issue for Malaysia – Mahathir". The Borneo Post. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Inquiry clears Malaysia govt in citizenship-for-votes scheme". Agence France-Presse. Rappler. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "Official inquiry clears Malaysia government in citizenship-for-votes scheme in Sabah". The Straits Times. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Kamal Sadiq (March 2005). "When States Prefer Non-Citizens over Citizens: Conflict over Illegal Immigration into Malaysia". International Studies Quarterly, University of California, Irvine 49. Wiley Online Library. pp. 101–122. doi:10.1111/j.0020-8833.2005.00336.x. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  12. ^ Matthew J. Gibney (September 2006). "Who should be included? Non-citizens, conflict and the constitution of the citizenry" (PDF). Queen Elizabeth House. Department for International Development. pp. 6/9. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  13. ^ a b Robert Hopkins Miller (2002). Vietnam and Beyond: A Diplomat's Cold War Education. Texas Tech University Press. pp. 178–. ISBN 978-0-89672-491-4. 
  14. ^ "Shut Kinarut Refugee Camp, says Rosnah". New Sabah Times. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Sabah MPs demand Govt Resolve Illegal immigrant Problem". Bernama. New Sabah Times. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  16. ^ Julia Chan (10 November 2014). "Illegal immigrants, crime shattering peace in Sabah’s villages, state reps say". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "Rahim wants land title revoked". Daily Express. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "‘Ops Durian Buruk’in early 1990s, says ex-NRD officer". The Borneo Post. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  19. ^ FMT Staff (16 January 2013). "‘We gave Muslim foreigners IDs to vote’". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Boo Su-Lyn (16 January 2013). "EC ordered NRD to give ICs, change immigrants’ names, RCI told". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  21. ^ Calvin Kabaron (18 January 2013). "RCI revelations could drown Musa, Umno". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  22. ^ Boo Su-Lyn (17 January 2013). "Filipino refugee says got blue IC without applying for it". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  23. ^ Boo Su-Lyn (18 January 2013). "Pakistani, Indian migrants tell how they got ICs". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  24. ^ Joseph Tawie (23 January 2013). "Sabah RCI disclosures anger Sarawakian". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  25. ^ "DIGP: Detained police corporal has family ties in southern Philippines". New Sabah Times. 29 June 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  26. ^ "Police say security guard who shot dead bank officer had fake IC". ABN News. 24 October 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  27. ^ Muzliza Mustafa (11 November 2013). "Suspect in Ambank murder identified as Indonesian from Sulawesi". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  28. ^ Hemananthani Sivanandam (18 November 2013). "Kit Siang questions how Ambank guard got MyKad". The Sun. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  29. ^ "People missing after boat of illegal Indonesian migrants sank off Malaysia". News.com.au. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  30. ^ Liz Fields (22 June 2014). "Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela Get Failing Grade in Battle Against Human Trafficking". Vice News. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  31. ^ Stuart Grudgings (5 March 2014). "Exclusive: Trafficking abuse of Myanmar Rohingya spreads to Malaysia". Reuters. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  32. ^ "Vietnamese women top list of foreign prostitutes in Malaysia". Bernama. ABN News. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  33. ^ "Vietnamese woman in custody for trafficking 19 to Malaysia for prostitution". Thanh Nien News. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  34. ^ Mai Tram (6 November 2014). "Vietnam cops arrest two human trafficking cases with victims' help". Thanh Nien News. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  35. ^ "Program 6P". Ministry of Home Affairs (in Malay). Department of Information, Malaysia. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  36. ^ "Malaysia to launch amnesty programme for illegal immigrants". The Economic Times. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  37. ^ Mohd Noor Firdaus Mohd Azil (27 February 2012). "Call To Strengthen 6P Amnesty Programme To Restrict Inflow Of Illegals". Bernama. Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  38. ^ "Zahid: Crackdown on illegal immigrants running businesses tonight". The Star. 1 March 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  39. ^ Blanca Garcés-Mascareñas (2012). Labour Migration in Malaysia and Spain: Markets, Citizenship and Rights. Amsterdam University Press. pp. 93–. ISBN 978-90-8964-286-8. 

Further reading[edit]