Reduce levy to curb illegal foreign workers, says ex-MP
TAWAU, Feb 18, 2010: Former Tawau member of parliament Datuk Geoffrey Yee said the only
way to curb illegal foreign workers and illegally employed foreign workers
was to reduce the levy.
Commenting on the statement made by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin
Tun Hussein on a system to monitor foreigners and the proposal to be
tabled by 13 ministries at the cabinet committee level, Geoffrey said
there was no need for so many ministries to be involved as it only
involved the immigration at entry and exit points and the Labour
Department for foreigners looking for employment.
"Actually the high levy created a lot of illegal foreign workers. I am
sure most leaders realise this problem but do not know how to solve it; if
they knew the solution, the problem would already be solved," he said
He said in the past and till now, the action taken by the government was
only to catch and punish illegals and employers.
"For so many years, this system (catch and punish) had been used but
without success; so that means the system is outdated," he said.
He said according to Hishamuddin there were 7,099 operations conducted by
the Immigration Department throughout the country last year and 47,310
detentions were made.
"Operations involve a lot of money and the money spent could be more than
the levy collected. All extra expenses incurred in these operations are
the results from the high levy," he said.
"If the government listens, all it needs to do is lower the levy and
simplify the process and the problem is solved. All this while, employers
have been asking the government to simplify employment procedures for
foreigners and for a lower levy," he said.
He said low levy meant foreigners coming in to look for jobs could afford
to pay the levy themselves and they would not be entering illegally if the
levy was affordable.
Geoffrey also said the levy caused a lot of problems, such as affecting
production costs and eventually consumers had to pay more.
He also pointed out a statement by Sarawak's Land Development Minister Datuk Sri James Masing who said Sarawak lost RM1.2 billion last year due
to the shortage of workers to harvest palm oil fruits, whereas all this
while leaders had been saying there were a lot of illegal workers which is
contrary to what was being claimed.
He said if the government could reduce the levy it would not harm anyone;
instead it would solve many things such as illegals, social problems,
crimes and production costs.
Geoffrey also touched on the AFTA where the country had to be competitive
against other Asean countries where labour was cheaper compared to
Malaysia where the cost of labour is expensive.
February 18, 2010, The Borneo Post