E-card is free, yet migrant workers pay thousands of ringgit

Alyaa Alhadjri

Modified 8 Feb 2018, 4:56 am

SPECIAL REPORT | Yudi* is an Indonesian construction worker who was recently legally re-hired using the Immigration Department Enforcement Card (E-card) system.

However, what was supposed to be a service provided for free by the government has cost him thousands of ringgit in payments made through an undisclosed third party claiming to be an agent.

The payments purportedly include various fees to eventually secure his new work permit, said Yudi, who has been in Malaysia for about 10 years.

Earning a daily wage of RM55, Yudi said he paid RM1,500 just for his E-card.

"In total, I have spent RM3,000," said Yudi, who also has a wife and son in Malaysia. He said he was unclear as to whether there will be other payments to be made.

Malaysiakini, together with Jakarta-based NGO Migrant Care, met with Yudi near his worksite on Wednesday.

Like many of his fellow countrymen, Yudi first came to Malaysia with a valid passport and work permit, employed as a labourer at an oil palm plantation in Ipoh.

"But then my boss passed away. Soon after that, I ran away and worked (illegally) at several other plantations before coming here," he said.

While out around Kuala Selangor several years ago, Yudi said he was arrested during a raid and subsequently released after his second employer purportedly paid the authorities RM1,500.

"They asked me whether I wanted to go home (to be deported) or whether I wanted to stay and work in Malaysia? At that time, I still had a boss.

"I called my boss and he came to pay them, and I was released," Yudi said.

As for his current employer, Yudi said all workers were only warned about the ongoing raids, which followed the June 30 deadline set for employers to apply for E-cards for their undocumented workers.

"If we don't work, we still won't get paid," he lamented.

"I may be safe, but how about my wife and son?" asked Yudi, adding that he has no choice but to accompany them while in hiding.

His wife and son, along with a group believed to number some 100 others, have taken to hide in the jungle surrounding several projects located around 60km away from Kuala Lumpur, in a neighbouring state...

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