KUCHING (May 18): The Sarawak government has taken several initiatives to address the issue of illegal workers in Sarawak, including in oil palm plantations, said Deputy Minister in the Premier of Sarawak’s Department (Labour, Immigration and Project Monitoring) Datuk Gerawat Gala.
According to him, the government has implemented the Labour Recalibration and Return Recalibration Programmes in Sarawak, involving the Malaysian Immigration Department and Sarawak Labour Department.
“The Labour Recalibration Programme regularises existing illegal immigrants as legal foreign workers to be employed by eligible employers subjected to the conditions and criteria that have been set.
“Under the Labour Recalibration Programme, a total of 1,479 illegal immigrants have been registered under the plantation sector and this is the main sector that is involved in the Labour Recalibration Programme.
“As for the Return Recalibration Programme, a total of 635 illegal immigrants were sent back to their countries of origin,” he said during the question and answer session at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) today.
Gerawat was responding to questions from Balingian assemblyman Abdul Yakub Arbi on the steps and actions taken by the government to deal with illegal workers in the oil palm plantations in Sarawak.
On a related note, Gerawat said a total of 95 illegal immigrants have been detained and 415 illegal immigrants were deported since ‘Op Benteng’ was implemented in Sarawak on May 22, 2020.
“The Immigration Department also conducted surprise operations at factories, plantations and construction sites to check foreign workers for valid documents.
“A total of 232 operations were conducted in Sarawak from January to April 2022 with the arrest of 1,047 illegal foreign workers and 17 employers were charged,” he added.
Gerawat said the state Labour Department will always conduct regular inspections and focused operations through outreach programmes to the plantations in rural areas.
“A total of 712 plantations were inspected in 2021 while from January to April 2022, a total of 567 plantations were inspected statewide,” he said.