MP SPEAKS On Feb 7, it was reported that Immigration Department director-general Mustafar Ali announced that undocumented migrants (Pati) will be able to register for a temporary card called ‘Enforcement Card’ or E-Kad with the department from Feb 15 until June 30, 2017.
The director-general also said that there will not be any middleman or agent involved in the ‘E-Kad’ process; “The registration is free and the card will be given to the illegal workers two days after application.”
On its own, all these announcements seemed like good news - registering undocumented immigrants, lowering the cost of registration and doing away with middlemen. I have long been urging the government to implement these measures.
New revelation in Parliament
Two days ago on March 20, 2017, in Parliament, the government shocked us with the revelation that there are indeed middlemen involved in the whole process.
Not just one but three super-agents which the employers/migrant workers have to go through before applying for the “free E-Kad directly from Immigration Department”.
The ‘free’ E-Kad will only be issued after a payment of up to RM800 per worker to one of the super-agents. Subsequently other costs will have to be paid to complete the rehiring process once the ‘free’ E-Kad is received.
I was told in Parliament that only three companies were appointed by the government to do the rehiring process: 1) Iman Sdn Bhd, 2) MyEG Bhd, and 3) Bukit Megah Sdn Bhd.
In other words, it is still business as usual at the Immigration Department - well-connected super-agents raking lucrative profits doing paper-shifting jobs for the Immigration Department.
Thus, in the final analysis, E-Kad is exposed as a redundant extra layer of bureaucracy even though it was promoted in the media as “free and middleman-free”, giving the false impression that there is an ongoing reform being implemented.
Has the Immigration Department now become marketing department for the Migrant Industrial Complex - using ‘free’ E-Kad as a gimmick to get employers to register and therefore bringing business to the middlemen?
Middlemen poised to make RM500m
Why can’t the Immigration Department do the rehiring directly just as it is issuing the E-Kad directly? Approval of migrant workers comes from the government, middlemen are only paper-shifters who took advantage of this flawed system to rake in hundreds of millions.
For example, in this current E-Kad exercise, the Immigration Department estimated that up to 600,000 Pati will be registered. This translates to about RM500 million in revenue for the super-agents for four months of work, not to mention having to hold close to RM1 billion of levies, charges and fees payable to the government.
STEVEN SIM CHEE KEONG is Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam and deputy spokesperson, DAP Parliamentary Committee for Human Resources.