Malaysia launches crackdown on undocumented foreign nationals

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Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya. Photo from J Eduardo Malaya Facebook account

MANILA, Philippines – The Malaysian government has announced a crackdown on undocumented foreign nationals from January 21 onwards prompting the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia to advise Filipinos there to ensure their immigration papers are with them at all times.

“We would like to remind our nationals to make sure that their immigration or work documents are in order, and to carry with them proper documents, notably work permit or passport with valid visa, to avoid inconvenience in case of immigration checks,” Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya said in a statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Thursday.

Undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Malaysia may voluntarily leave the country and they would not be prosecuted, the DFA said. They will however be made to pay an “overstay fine.”

Apprehended undocumented foreigners will be detained and be processed for deportation.

“The Embassy also reiterated its appeal to those who wish to work in Malaysia to make sure that they have approved work permits or similar papers before they come over or start their work in the country,” DFA said.

Last January 10, the Malaysian government announced “Ops Bersepadu,” a major crackdown on illegal foreign workers.

“Expected to be affected by the crackdown are nationals from Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Laos, Vietnam, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines,” DFA said.

“The Malaysian government has recently banned foreign workers from working in fastfood restaurants to prioritize the hiring of locals,” it said.

According to records from the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA), 2,778 newly hired OFWs were deployed to Malaysia in 2010.

In 2009, the number of newly hired OFWs to Malaysia was 1,210. In 2008, it was 999, and in 2007, it was 1,474.

Malaysia however is notorious as a destination for undocumented Filipinos who pass through the southernmost province of the Philippines, Sulu, which is less than 50 kilometers from Malaysian province of Sabah.

DFA also reminded Filipino tourists who go to Malaysia that they cannot seek work while they are there.

“Foreigners, including Filipinos, who travel to Malaysia as tourists, cannot work there legally,” DFA said.

“They should verify job offers in Malaysia with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) in Manila or the Embassy’s Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) before coming to Malaysia for a job,” it said.

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