News / Asia

Thousands Face Deportation in Malaysian Immigration Crackdown

A shadow of a migrant enforcement officer is cast on a makeshift shelter, built by suspected illegal migrant workers, as he tries to break a locked door during a crackdown on illegal migrant workers in Nilai, outside Kuala Lumpur September 1, 2013.
A shadow of a migrant enforcement officer is cast on a makeshift shelter, built by suspected illegal migrant workers, as he tries to break a locked door during a crackdown on illegal migrant workers in Nilai, outside Kuala Lumpur September 1, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
More than 2,000 immigrants in Malaysia have spent the night in detention centers in a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigration that authorities say could deport hundreds of thousands of people.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the press the 2,433 detainees were among approximately 8,000 people examined by authorities in dozens of operations that began Sunday.

“This shows the seriousness of the Home Ministry and Immigration Department [to flush out the illegal immigrants]. Ours is not a spur-of-the-moment action,” Ahmad Zahid said Monday, as quoted by Malaysia's national news agency, Bernama.

The Home minister told reporters that so far, authorities have detained 717 Indonesian nationals, 555 Burmese nationals, 387 Bangladeshi nationals and 229 Nepali nationals. He said authorities also detained immigrants from Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, China, Nigeria and Thailand.

Officials say more than 400,000 immigrants could be affected by the operation. Many of them hold low-paying construction and plantation jobs, while others work as domestic helpers or in massage parlors.

Thanks, but no thanks

Their labor has helped build Malaysia into Southeast Asia’s third largest economy. But as the economy has weakened, concerns have grown among some Malaysians that foreigners could push down wages and drive up crime.

The government has vacillated in its approach to illegal immigration over the past decade, from whipping and fining people for working illegally in Malaysia, to registering 1.3 million of an estimated two million undocumented foreigners for an amnesty program in 2011.

The crackdown that began Sunday is focusing first on immigrants who signed up for amnesty but didn’t finish the process.

It comes as Malaysia is trying to transition to a higher-skilled economy and is facing a slower growth rate than expected. The central bank recently downgraded Malaysia’s economic growth forecast from 6 percent to between 4.5 and 5 percent this year.

Human rights

Malaysian authorities say they are working with foreign embassies to repatriate the undocumented workers. Home Minister Ahmad Zahid also said authorities will take action in accordance with international law to avoid human trafficking.

Malaysia is a destination and transit country for trafficking victims who suffer exploitation and abuse as forced laborers and sex slaves. The U.S. Department of State placed Malaysia on its Tier 2 human trafficking Watch List for the fourth consecutive year this year, because the government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for ending trafficking.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid