MP SPEAKS About two months ago in May this year, the authority busted an insider syndicate in the Immigration Department that has been sabotaging the computer system called the Malaysia Immigration System (MyIMMS) to allow illegal entry into Malaysia.
Last week, I wrote about how another immigration system NERS may have potentially been breached to allow about 718,000 suspicious foreigners to enter our country in 2013.
And then I highlighted how another system, the MyEG online migrant worker permit renewal system, had breached immigration laws by illegally renewing almost 9,000 migrant workers in 2013 and 2014.
All these systems are provided by private contractors who were awarded contracts without open tender.
A multi-billion ringgit immigration system upgrade on the table
Before the dust has settled on these critical problems, we are now faced with another potentially explosive issue.
Immediately after the exposé of weaknesses in MyIMMS, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed spoke about an upgrade of the immigration system which will “incur massive cost”. The deputy minister was also quoted in the press as saying that, “a task force will be set up to review the current MyIMMS…The task force, to be led by Home Ministry secretary general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim, will look into this as we need to find a solution to safeguard national security.”
The truth is, eight months ago, on Nov 20, 2015, the Home Ministry has already signed an agreement with another company, Prestariang Bhd to implement an overall system upgrade codenamed SKIN, Sistem Kawalan Imigresen Nasional - National Border Control System.
The signing ceremony was supposed to be witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, but he was represented by none other than the Home Ministry secretary general, Alwi Ibrahim, the very same person tasked to lead a taskforce to review the current MyIMMS and “find a solution”.
In other words, the solution was already found eight months ago.
How much does this overhaul of our immigration system cost? When the contract was signed in November 2015, at least one financial house reported that “Prestariang’s investment in SKIN will amount to RM1 billion or more”.
Recent media reports revealed that the immigration system upgrade could cost up to RM6 billion. However, the whole project will now be divided into smaller packages over a period of time. The first phase is estimated to cost between RM400-500 million.
Malaysia migrant industrial complex - the exclusive and lucrative club of gov’t immigration contractors
With this contract, Prestariang joins the exclusive and lucrative club of a handful of private contractors supplying key services to the Immigration Department. I have written about the Malaysia Migrant Industrial Complex, a multi-billion ringgit industry benefiting this exclusive club alone.
The key problems with this club are:
Projects were carved out to different vendors as if to reward different cronies with contracts. This inevitably caused poor system integration. Such problem was admitted by HeiTech Padu, the contractor for MyIMMS who claimed that one of the reasons for the failure of the system was the integration between different systems and vendors.
Time to stop the rot, setup royal commission on immigration reform
Our immigration problem is in a very critical state now with 2-3 million undocumented migrants in the country. Malaysia has for the last 16 years rated poorly in the annual US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report. Terrorism-related travels are posing a serious threat to our security.
Billions of ringgit were poured into the blackhole that is the Malaysia migrant industrial complex, only to have the problem worsen over the years. And the cycle repeats with more lucrative contracts dished out to cronies on the pretext of solving the earlier problems.
It is time we stop the rot.
We can no longer trust any taskforce which solely reports to the government of the day. Thus, I humbly urge His Majesty the Yang Dipertuan Agong to convene a royal commission on immigration reform to thoroughly deal with the deep-seated problems we are facing today. I will be writing a letter to the palace to seek His Majesty’s intervention.
STEVEN SIM CHEE KEONG is MP for Bukit Mertajam and deputy spokesperson, DAP Parliamentary Committee for Human Resources.