Deputy home minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced in Bernama that the Malaysia government is now allowed to issue foreign workers temporary card for illegal immigrants employed in the country.

Chairing a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers and Illegal Immigrants yesterday, he commented: "The permission was given based on current needs and open to all sectors, but it is only subjected to the workers who have employers.”

He also highlighted that card issuance to foreign workers brought in without documents, or whose nationality was not recognised by the country of origin, would be implemented only after a written confirmation from the Attorney-General Chambers is received.

"If they do not have documents, they are classified as illegal workers while employers who do not pay the levy, their employees are certainly not protected by insurance besides not getting social benefit if any accident occurs," he said.

Hamidi also said that the cards needed to be renewed annually and could be done through the Immigration Department's Foreign Workers Division.

In another report by The Star Online, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the move was “a big relief to employers” as it would benefit the workers and the government.

“By regularising the employment of the illegal workers, the workers get to earn a living while the government can collect levies and fees from them with their presence properly accounted,” he mentioned.

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Meanwhile, Bernama has also reported that the Malaysia government has agreed to expand the flexibility in foreign workers recruitment to the mining sector and certain sub-sectors under the agriculture, service and tourism industries during the same meeting.

According to Hamidi, the decision was a follow-up to the ban on hiring foreign workers last year.

He commented: "The flexibility was given after considering the requirement of the industry so as not to retard the economy particularly export-based industries.”

Noting that the latest move covered hiring of foreign workers for agriculture subsector poultry and others in the critical sector, he said the approval had also been given to the mining and quarrying sector to hire foreign workers.

"The approval for this sector was only given on an interim basis up to 2020 and only to operators permitted to carry out mining and quarrying."

He explained it was to meet urgent need of how the subsector could not attract local workers, as they find mining and quarrying activities as a 3D (dirty, difficult and dangerous) job.

Hamidi also said the committee had agreed to extend the interim approval given in 2012 till 2016 to the service subsector - spa and foot reflexology, hotel/hospitality (back of house), resort islands, and golf caddy (males only) to the end of 2020.

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