Malaysia starts crackdown on illegal migrant workers

Posted at 01/21/2014 6:59 PM

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian authorities on Tuesday began a nationwide crackdown on illegal migrant workers.

Footage from state media RTM showed police checking the documents of over 1,000 migrant workers in capital Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding Selangor state as the operation kicked off at midnight.

Among them were workers from Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand, the report said.

Malaysian Interior Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said it is unknown how many illegal migrants are currently present in the country, but those who are found without valid documents will be deported within seven days.

"We cannot confirm the total of illegal migrants at the moment but all of them will be deported as soon as possible. We will make sure they do not stay too long in the deportation center," said Zahid during the operation.

All the costs of deportation will be borne by the illegal migrants or their government, said Malaysian Deputy Interior Minister Junaidi Wan Tuanku Jaafar who led the operation in Kuala Lumpur.

"Illegal migrant workers or their embassies and government have to pay for the deportation of their own citizens, Malaysian government will not responsible for it," said Junaidi.

Malaysia is a country that highly depends on foreign migrants who work blue collar jobs from domestic work to construction.

Migrant workers, about two million strong, account for more than 20 percent of Malaysia's workforce.