Sarawak Immigration autonomy on temporary work pass for foreign workers is gone, says DAP

Foreign workers – NSTP Pic

By S. Harrish

THE GPS government has been urged to tackle the problem faced by employers in renewing their foreign workers work permits in the state.

DAP’s Michael Kong said many employers were caught in a difficult situation due to the long wait for their employees’ work permits to be extended.

“With many of them having an expired pass, they are effectively considered illegal foreign workers if they decide to continue to work now.”

He said in a statement today that there was a huge backlog now in terms of approvals for foreign general workers’ AP quota with many applications still yet to be approved after eight months.

Michael Kong

“Previously, our State Immigration Department was able to exercise its immigration autonomy by issuing Temporary Employment Visit Pass without having to deal with the Labour Department.”

This allowed the workers to work pending the formal approval for their applications.
“However since early this year, the State Immigration has stopped the policy and my investigations showed its authority has been taken away.

“Now applicants have to apply for an Approval Letter for AP from the Labour Department before the employers can apply for the work permits for their workers.”

Kong, who is also Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen’s special assistant, said the Labour Department usually organised a meeting chaired by the State Secretary or his deputy to decide on all the applications.

“Only one meeting had taken place over the past one year and there is a huge backlog,” said Kong, who added that this inefficiency had caused many problems for employers.

“On top of this, the GPS government is effectively surrendering its Immigration autonomy to a department of the Federal government in terms of employment of foreign workers.

“So much talk by GPS about the fight for autonomy, yet it is practically surrendering the existing autonomy which it had all these years.”

Kong urged GPS politicians and ministers to go down to the ground and speak to the industry players to understand the plight of the people and try solving the issues.