Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mechanism to monitor illegals, put ‘fear into them’

By ZUHRIN AZAM AHMAD

PETALING JAYA: The Home Ministry is devising a mechanism that would enable the authorities to monitor “each and every foreigner” from the moment they enter the country till the day they leave.
Its minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the ultimate purpose was to create an environment where foreigners without legal status would “feel afraid and threatened and prepare to leave the country immediately.”
He said the new mechanism would entail upgrading the current database system to enable checks on the status of foreigners to be conducted anywhere and anytime.
“The number of foreigners claiming to be tourists and workers here does not tally with our records.
“The huge presence (of illegals) not only (leads to) social and security problems but also tarnishes the image of the country and makes genuine tourists feel uncomfortable,” he said after personally driving through the city during the Chinese New Year break to see for himself the situation in the federal capital.
Hishammuddin, who described the situation as “unusual and worrying,” said a majority of the foreigners were not tourists and claimed to be employed legally in the country.
“Obviously our enforcement efforts need to be further reinforced with comprehensive monitoring that can only be established with an integrated database system.
“This initial proposal (for the new mechanism) would be tabled at the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers and Illegal Immigrants meeting next Monday,” he said.
The committee, comprising 13 ministries, is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Hishamuddin said the current conventional method of keeping tabs on foreigners, including conducting raids, has to be improved.
“We also need to see if laws need to be amended, as well as implementing other new measures,” he said.
Last year, the authorities carried 7,099 operations against illegals which saw 47,310 people being detained, including 26,545 cases of illegal entry and 8,655 of over-staying