On 1 July, the Immigration Department launched Ops Mega, a nationwide crackdown on illegal foreign workers. Officers went to construction sites, factories, to farms and plantations and service sectors to weed out the illegals. Its name mirrors the scale of the operations – on Day 1 alone, they tangkap over 1,000 people, and by late August, they’ve deported nearly 37,000 people, fuhh!
Obviously a yuge number of foreign workers would be shivering their timbers because the majority are here illegally. Some reports estimate the number to be 3 million, whereas only 1.7 million are legal.
Amid the hooplaboopla, illegal workers have begun scrambling to get documentation….illegally!! Yep, a string of syndicates selling FAKE documentation for foreign workers have sprung up since the beginning of Ops Mega (though we can safely bet many people have been doing this dirty work long before enforcement began). Now the Department is going after these syndicates that are dotted all over the Peninsula and East Malaysia.
The mastermind was…a Bangladeshi with a supervillain name!?
More than 50 syndicates were detected since July this year and the Immigration Dept believe both locals and foreigners are behind these scams. Dept Director General Mustafar Ali said they are active in several states, KL, Penang and Johor.
The BIGGEST of these documents forgery syndicates is believed to have been masterminded by a 32-year-old Bangladeshi called The Professor! He was well known for his qualifications in ICT and his ‘special expertise’ which is forging documents, and was highly sought out by foreign workers in the country.
But his game was up when Immigration Department officers laid a trap for him on 12 Aug. The suspect arrived at a meeting point, where he was to hand over forged documents ordered by a supposed customer. After he was nabbed, The Professor led officers to his Ampang home that he used as a lab for his illicit work, where his right hand guy (another Bangladeshi in his 30s) was also caught.
“Some 229 stickers for employment passes, temporary work passes, social visit passes and student passes were found at the premises. There were also fake Malaysian visa stickers, Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) cards, E-Cards, i-Cards and Bangladeshi passports.” – Mustafar Ali, Director-General of the Dept, The Star
Meanwhile, miles away in Sabah, a Datuk Seri masterminded another syndicate there. Walao, a Datuk Seri and Professor? All these bad guys seem larger than life! Anyway, the Datuk Seri in his 60s was arrested along with 11 Malaysians and 3 Filipinos believed to be in cahoots with him. His activities were backed by a private company operating in Kota Kinabalu.
Ok, now coming back to the Peninsula, a whole family-run Bangladeshi syndicate was busted just this month. Family-run k, there’s Papa Forger, Mama Counterfeiter, and Baby Fraudster, home sweet home. 14 suspects were arrested during a raid at their house in Seri Kembangan. They also ran the family business from a rented shop that sold phone prepaid cards and accessories, using it as a front for their fake ID operation.
Why do so many people want to be in this business? Banyak untung ke?
These syndicates make RM30,000 to RM70,000 a month!
According to the Immigration Dept, The Professor’s gig raked in profits of RM50,000-RM70,000 a month(!), while family-run business in Seri Kembangan earned them RM30,000 a month – they could even buy a car from the money.
The Professor had charged between RM1,000-RM4,000 per document, while The Datuk Seri charged between RM1,100-RM1,200 per card. WHOA, that’s a lotta money, whereas most other foreign workers only earn on average RM1,500++ a month.
“Equipment and materials confiscated by the Dept showed that they had only invested RM30,000 in the (illegal enterprise) – but gained hundreds of thousands of ringgit in the last year.” – Mustafar Ali, NST
Err, ok the video doesn’t show it, but basically the customer gives them their photo, the forger would patch it onto a template of an E-card before printing a copy and laminating it. Mustafar explained that the process of making the E-card takes 5 minutes, while a fake passport takes 2 hours. After it’s done, the item will be delivered at a time and venue determined by The Professor.
“They usually make the delivery in LRT stations around Selangor and KL. Most of their clients are from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and India.” – Mustafar told Malaysia Gazette
And most of them had been staying in Malaysia for 5 to 9 years already, he added.
Chup… passport we know la, but what is this E-card? E-cards (or Enforcement Card for long) provide illegal foreigners a temporary work pass (up to 1 year) to fill in vacancies in the allowed sectors, before they get their appropriate legal documents from their own countries or embassies. Call it a ‘Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free’ pass, if you will. The government made it compulsory for illegal foreign workers to register for E-cards in February.
As usual, Malaysians very last minute, so in the last few days leading up to the registration deadline, employers were swarming Immigration offices, rushing to get it done. And we wonder why gomen servant muka masam. 😆 Immigration boss Mustafar shook his head when he saw the large crowd. Right up to the last day which was 30 June, some employers had the cheek ask for extension. But the Immigration Dept was pissed off and said NO WAY JOSE!
“Are we disappointed? Of course, we are. We have given ample time for employers to register their illegal workers. From tomorrow, we will start a nationwide operation [Ops Mega] to nab illegals. Those who are caught will be detained, deported and blacklisted.” – said Mustafar
Officials were super annoyed and revealed that out of the estimated 3 million illegal foreigners in the country, only nearly 145,600 bothered to register. They targeted 400,000-600,000 people initially. Blame it on the tidak apa attitude, they said.
If you think that’s bad, how bout paying RM10,000 per card??
The government’s rule to enable illegal foreign workers to be legalised via the E-card has opened up an avenue for exploitation, unfortunately. Bangladeshi gangs are extorting RM7,000-RM10,000 from their fellow countrymen to “help” them get E-Cards.
They prey on those who are here without proper documents, taking advantage of their trust and lack of knowledge of proper procedures. Many who did not know about the E-card offer or were afraid to communicate with authorities were the ones being ruthlessly cheated. Padahal to apply for the card the legit way through the Bangladesh High Commission (or whichever other country’s High Comm and Embassy) costs only RM100.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to Malaysia Md Shahidul Islam stated that the workers were held hostage by these conmen gangs. Several workers claimed they were physically threatened by the gangs when trying to contact the High Commission.
“Bangladeshi middlemen stand around the High Commission’s gate. They know who we are, they stop us on our way and threaten us.” – Aminur Rahman, an illegal worker, told Dhaka Tribune
Another worker, Rubel, told the newspaper: “We pay the middlemen on a regular basis to avoid arrest.” Some middlemen apparently tell these workers if they do not pay up, the brokers will inform the police of their presence and get them arrested.
It’s good that Immigration is getting serious about the problem of illegals
Finally the Immigration Department is taking action to send home the PATIs (aka pendatang asing tanpa izin). For too long we’ve read about the number of illegal workers swelling until it has overtaken the number of our own Malaysian Indian citizens.
Not that we begrudge them work or anything, but illegal is illegal is illegal, so its better they go through the proper channels to find jobs here (also for their own good, coz illegal workers might be more vulnerable to exploitation).
As for Malaysians, this concerns us too, if we (or our companies) are employers of illegal foreign workers. Action can be taken against those who employ them, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) warned. Recently, a recycling company boss was found to harbour 14 illegal immigrants, and was charged under Section 6(1)(c) and Section 15(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 (Act 155) which carries up to RM30,000 fine or up to 1 year jail for each illegal immigrant harboured. In the end, he kena saman RM70,000 for that.
So what can Malaysians do? Ultimately the MEF advised Malaysians not to hire illegal workers and that’s all that can be done. For the sake of the immigrants themselves, we gotta say we agree. MEF Executive Director Shamsuddin Bardan told FMT that lotsa people don’t go legal coz agent fees super expensive… like RM12,000-RM18,000 to hire maids, for example. Take our wallets and bank account details too, why dontcha.
Anyway, the good news is, the gomen is now allowing people to hire immigrants online yay. For more info on this, you can call the Immigration at 03-20527111 or visit eppax.gov.my (for all foreign workers applications except from Bangladesh), or sppa.com.my (for Bangladeshi applications only).