Kong claims Sarawak has lost immigration autonomy following change in Temporary Employment Visit Pass procedure

Michael Kong

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KUCHING, Aug 3: Sarawak Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) Michael Kong alleges that Sarawak’s immigration autonomy has been surrendered to the federal government.

In a press statement today, Kong who is a special assistant to Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen said in past years, the Sarawak Immigration Department was able to exercise its immigration autonomy by issuing the Temporary Employment Visit Pass without having to deal with the Labour Department.

Such arrangement, he said, had helped many employers to get their workers to work pending the formal approval for their applications.

“However, since early this year, the State Immigration Department has stopped such policy.

“My investigation has revealed that the state immigration’s authority have been taken away from them. 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,” said Kong.

He claimed many foreigners who are currently residing in Malaysia are facing issues with their work pass renewal. With many of them having an expired pass, they are effectively considered illegal foreign workers if they decide to continue to work at this juncture.

Many employers, he said, are caught in a difficult situation of long waits for their employees’ work permits to be extended.

He claimed the Labour Department will usually organise a meeting (chaired by the State Secretary or the Deputy State Secretary) for the purposes of deciding on all these applications.

Without the State Secretary or his Deputy, Kong said “everything jams up and no meeting can take place” and claimed such meeting only took place on one occasion over the past one year, thus resulting in the current backlog.

“There is currently a huge backlog in terms of the approval for foreign general workers’ AP quota with many applications having to wait anything from six to eight months,” said Kong.

Kong also alleged that the current Gabungan Parti Sarawak (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 has had all these years.

“The current GPS politicians and ministers should go down to the ground and speak to the industry players to understand the plight of the people and to try solve the issues that many of these foreign workers and their employers are experiencing,” said Kong. — DayakDaily