‘Overstaying workers cannot become Malaysian citizens’

March 29th, 2008 - 9:48 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, March 29 (IANS) Over 200,000 foreign workers overstaying for up to 30 years in Malaysia have applied for permanent residence status and citizenship for which they are not qualified. “One does not acquire any right to permanent residence or citizenship just by working in the country. A guest worker in this country is a guest worker,” Home Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar said here.

He said the Malaysian laws permitted unskilled workers to work for a maximum of five years while skilled workers could work for 10 years, The Star newspaper reported.

Unlike some countries, Malaysia did not offer permanent residence or citizenship to people even though they have invested millions of ringgit in the country, he said.

There are now some 1.2 million foreign workers in Malaysia from South Asia and Southeast Asian.

Albar, a former foreign minister who took over the home portfolio this month, said his priority would be to tackle the issue of illegal foreign workers including those who overstayed.

Another problem on the priority list is the visa-on-arrival facility that saw about 60,000 tourists overstaying since the system was introduced last year.

Yet another problem to be “revisited” is the licences issued to some 300 outsourcing companies to bring in foreign workers.

Albar said the way the licences were used led to numerous cases of foreigners being stranded in the country without jobs and proper accommodation despite having paid agency fees.

Malaysia has thousands of skilled and unskilled workers and IT experts from India and an estimated 130,000 workers from Bangladesh.

India IT workers were treated harshly last year while Bangladesh workers brought in by recruiting agencies have been stranded.

An angry demonstration by stranded workers and death of one of them last year caused Malaysia to freeze any further intake.

The Malaysian immigration department has warned that if the Bangladesh high commission did not resolve the problem of stranded unemployed Bangladeshis living in the city’s open spaces soon, they will be rounded up and deported.

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