Commentary by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee
The statement by the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein that the presence of more illegal workers compared to the legal ones is a cause of concern and could undermine national unity reveals either an ignoramus or an idiot. Did he expect many less illegals given the super-efficiency of his Ministry and the other government agencies sharing responsibility on this vital matter of securing our borders against unauthorized intrusion and stay in the country?
According to the current ongoing exercise, as of Friday, a total of 2,088,358 foreign workers had been registered, of whom 1,135,499 were illegals. Probably everyone else in the country knows that this number is an under-estimate and that a very large number are still waiting processing or are avoiding being included in the count altogether.
Since his appointment in 2009 as the Minister in charge of this portfolio, Hishammuddin has been lurching from one self inflicted debacle to another. From bending over backwards to defend the indefensible conduct of demonstrators in the infamous cow head incident to his most recent use of repressive force against the Bersih rally, he has shown a standard of leadership of this important Ministry which must be plumbing new lows or matching those lows attained by Dr. Mahathir.
Perhaps he has not had time to study and understand the situation with illegals in Malaysia, given the so many other important distractions posed by alleged anti-national and possibly terrorist groupings such as those Parti Rakyat members members recently taken in under the Emergency Ordinance for sporting Che Guevara and other communist attire; or the Bersih supporters who needed tear-gassing and perhaps even a big clout on their thick skulls for upsetting the traffic flow on a weekend; or the MoSC supporters who want to tear down the lily white and incorruptible reputation of one of the country most trusted and respected leaders through their Kuching walk rally aborted on “friendly police advice” – by the way, is Hishammuddin related in any way to Taib?
If he has still not been briefed by his Ministry officials on the foreign labour issue, this quick summary of facts, figures and other considerations may be useful.
The 10th Malaysian Plan document has a chart showing that the number of foreign workers in the country exceeded over 2 million in 2008. This figure has most likely increased rather than decreased. The current hi-tech, hi-cost biometric exercise seems to have registered only half of all workers with permits and probably fewer than half of those without.
The presence of so many foreign workers is due to not only to economic factors but also socio-political ones which everyone in the country, except the non-Malay Barisan parties seem to be aware of.
Thanks to ‘enlightened’ Barisan policies, Malaysian economy and society is presently hopelessly and irredeemably addicted to foreign workers.
The great majority of foreign workers work a lot harder for a lot less than their Malaysian counterparts. They deserve to be treated with fairness and respect, and there should be no witch-hunt to blame them for self inflicted socio-economic and political ills.
The profits in the foreign labour market have generated pervasive corruption amongst all levels of the police force, the Immigration Department, RELA, agents and other agencies – public and private.
The extortion of payments, services and loyalty from this marginalized segment and attempts to use them as a pawn in the demographic and racial power game will continue whatever the changes in policy and new stances adopted for public consumption.
In the view of some though who have observed the Home Minister closely, this graduate from the University of Wales and London School of Economics is not an ignoramus or idiot. He is a political animal aiming for the top position through scrupulous or unscrupulous means. According to the latest hot news in the internet, there is more at stake behind the Home Minister’s new found enthusiasm for pursuing the registration of foreign workers such as the disclosure that the new biometrics is the cash cow for the coming UMNO and general elections. Much of this hot news cannot be verified but readers can visit the website http://biometricscandal.wordpress.com/ for details.