Tuesday 13 September 2011

6P or not, cops continue crack down

September 13, 2011

PETALING JAYA: The 6P amnesty programme to register legal and illegal foreign workers in the country has allegedly failed to stop the police from reining in aliens without proper permits.

Several management companies appointed to register the immigrants claimed that the police have been harassing and extorting money from those registered under the 6P programme, and in some cases arresting them.

“All these while the police have been doing this: extorting money from legal or illegal immigrants, it’s the norm. So now, eventhough the Home Ministry has this programme and you have immigrants with the proper 6P papers, the police still claim not to recognise that,” said an owner of one management company based in Seremban, who declined to be named.

“There are a lot of such cases. Well they don’t bother if you have 6P, 7P or 8P. So what to do? They ask for some money, we must give lah. But give a bit only lah, don’t just follow whatever they say,” said the source, whose company has had at least five such cases of police harassment.

He said that the authorities would not only pressure “you and extort money but in some cases even throw, tear, or just burn your 6P identification papers “so that he (the worker) will then have no documents”.
The 6P programme was an initiative by the Home Ministry to register legal and illegal immigrants in the country.
Under the programme, illegal immigrants get to gain amnesty through “6Ps” which stood for registering, legalising, pardoning, monitoring, enforcing and deporting illegal immigrants. The programme is also being initiated to help check human trafficking and trans-border crimes including drug smuggling and money laundering.

As of Aug 31, a total of 2,320,034 foreign workers and illegals were registered using the biometric system under the first phase of the 6P amnesty progamme. Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the number comprised 1,016,908 legal workers and 1,303,126 illegals.

‘Is the 6P a useless exercise?’

Another management company agent told FMT that two of his Bangladeshi workers were arrested on Saturday in Ampang for working in a pub and restaurant “without a permit”.

“Under the 6P programme, you are not supposed to be arrested, if not why is it called amnesty?As long as they can produce the slip (6P papers), they should be allowed to work under the programme.

“Does this mean they are doubting the credibility of the person they arrest, the management company appointed by the government, the immigration department, and even the Home Ministry? Does this make the whole 6P programme a useless exercise?” asked the agent.

He said the police told him that it took “two to three weeks” to check with the immigration department whether a person’s 6P papers were genuine and in the meantime, the workers suffer in prison.

The frustrated agent said the police now seem to be above the law as they are doing things “in the name of corruption”, and “simply going after the money”.

He said that the Home Ministry should clarify whether under the 6P programme, a registered person was allowed to work or not.

When contacted, a police officer who was in charge of investigations of the two Bangladeshis, said the police have no choice but to wait to verify the authenticity of the person’s identification papers.

However, he declined to comment whether under the 6P programme, illegals should be granted “immunity” when prossessing the slips.

Problems with maritime authorities

Meanwhile, another management company said workers registered under the 6P have also met with problems with maritime authorities.

National Smallholder Association Malaysia (Teluk Intan branch) chairman Tan Tang Seong said he received several complaints from fishermen who were warned by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency(MMEA) patrols that their 6P identification was not valid.

“The marine team said 6P is not recognised by them. There is also a case in Sungai Besar, Tanjung Karang, where a a fishing boat was stopped and then hauled to Port Klang to be detained because there were workers on board who were legal and illegal, registered under the 6P,” he said.

Tan said the confusion and dispute could be due to the fact that the MMEA was no longer under the Home Ministry but under the Prime Minister’s Office.

He said that he had raised the matter with Home Ministry secretary-general Mahmood Adam.
Contacted later, Mahmood told FMT that he would need to check if the claims of authorities harassing workers were true.

“Do you have a specific case? If yes, then I can check with the police whether is it true that such things are happening,” he said.

The second component of the 6P programme, “legalisation” is set to take place but the date of commencement would depend on the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers and Illegal Immigrants meeting to be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Oct 3.

The 6P programme had not been free from controversy. There were numerous complaints of the programme being exploited by several unscrupulous parties, including bogus agents, management companies overcharging fees, and legal immigrants taking the opportunity to abscond from their employers.

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