Many migrants who are legitimately in the country get arrested because they cannot produce and show their passport to the Police, Immigration Officers...and then RELA jokers.
It is so wrong for employers to deprive a migrant of his/her passport...and it is wrong for any person to be holding the passport of another without lawful authority.
And there really is no reason for an employer to be holding the passport of their workers...
HUMAN Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam has questioned the need for employers to keep the passports of their foreign workers.
Tamil Nesan reported him as saying it was illegal to hold another person’s passport.
However, he noted that most foreign workers in Malaysia agreed to hand over their passports to their employers due to security reasons.
Speaking at the launch of Nirwana Academy Group of Colleges’ School of Information Technology in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Subramaniam said the ministry would draw up guidelines to ensure there was no abuse of the passports.
He advised foreign workers not to hand over their passports to their employers.
He said employers must also ensure that the passports and visas do not expire or the workers would have to bear the consequences.
He said there were about three million foreign workers in the country, of whom 1.1 million were illegals. - Star, 25/10/2008 - Subra: No reason for bosses to hold passports
I came across a case a year back where a migrant worker who had just arrived in the country was arrested and detained by the authorities for about 3 plus months just because he could not show his original passport.
Guess what the passport of that migrant worker was taken by his employer to be submitted to the Immigration Department for the necessary work permit [Pas Lawatan[Kerja Sementara] to be endorsed (or attached) in his passport.
This migrant worker was arrested on 28/1/2007. The police takes the position that they will not release until they have sight of the ORIGINAL Passport - other documents insufficient.
After ORIGINAL passport is obtained back from the Immigration Department, which clearly has a Pas Lawatan(Kerja Sementara) that expires only on 11/1/2008, and is shown to the police on 9/2/2007 and the detaining authority at the Depoh Tahanan Pendatang Tanpa Izin Semenyih Selangor on 13/2/2007 .
The Migrant Worker was finally released on 13/4/2007 - and GUESS what despite demands by the Migrant Worker for his Passport - the Immigration Department hands over the passport of the Migrant Worker to the Employer.
Of course, release happelns after the application for habeas corpus is filed and served -- and just before the hearing date.
So, maybe good old HUMAN Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam must also stress it to the Immigration Department and the Police and the other authorities that the passport should always be returned to the Migrant Worker - and should always be with the Migrant Worker.
A brief chronology about this particular Migrant Workers case is as follows:-
28-1-2007 Migrant Worker(MW) arrested by police
29-1-2007 Employer’s representative goes to the Sunway Police station with all documents to prove that the presence of the MW was legal. They asked them to go to the Bandar Puchong police station. The Bandar Puchong Police said that they could not do anything as this was a Bandar Sunway matter.
30-1-2007 The employer’s representative went back to the Bandar Sunway police station - who now told them that they could not do anything until they had sight of the original passport.
9-2-2007 The employer receives back the original passport from the Immigration Department, which clearly has a Pas Lawatan(Kerja Sementara) that expires only on 11/1/2008 - that makes it clear beyond any doubt that the Applicant was legally in Malaysia for work until January 2008. The police then asks the employer’s representative to go to Depoh Tahanan Pendatang Tanpa Izin Semenyih Selangor.
13-2-2007 The employer’s representative goes to the Depoh Tahanan Pendatang Tanpa Izin Semenyih Selangor, and they say they cannot release until they receive directions from the police or the Public Prosecutor. The Depoh Tahanan Pendatang Tanpa Izin Semenyih Selangor then takes and holds the original passport of the MW.
15-2-2007 The employer’s representative goes back to the Sunway Police Station, and one Sjn. Ariffin says that he needs the original passport.
21-2-2007 The employer’s representative goes back to Depoh Tahanan Pendatang Tanpa Izin Semenyih Selangor and obtains the original passport of the MW with some difficulty.
The employer’s representative returns to Sjn Ariffin (Sunway Police Station), and he now says that the Immigration Department does not have any records about the MW.
22-2-2007 The employer’s representative goes to the Immigration Department in Pusat Bandar Damansara, Kuala Lumpur and gets even additional documents verifying the MW’s existence and valid presence in Malaysia. They also went to the Selangor Immigration Department.
When the employer’s representative returns with all these proof, Sjn Ariffin wrongfully said that he did want to be disturbed about this.
When the Public Prosecutor’s office in Selangor is contacted, they say that they have no records of the arrest and detention of the MW.
26-2-2007 The employer’s representative then went back to the Immigration Department in Pusat Bandar Damansara, and they also said that they do not have any record of the MW’s arrest and detention.
The employer’s representative goes back to the Sunway Police Station, and meet with the Officer in Charge, one C/Insp Supari, who says that he cannot do anything as this case was handled by Sjn Ariffin.
15-3-2007 The MW’s friend, one Alam Zeb, sends a letter to the Public Prosecutor’s office in Selangor enclosing a Statutory Declaration that also enclosed copies of all relevant documents appealing for the release of the MW.
28-3-2007 The MW’s lawyer sends letters to all relevant parties seeking the release of the MW, enclosing also relevant documents clearly showing that the arrest and clearly the prolonged detention was wrong.
3-4-2007 The Public Prosecutor’s office in Selangor sends Alam Zeb a letter stating that his appeal that the MW be released have been allowed.
5-4-2007 The Peguam Negara Malaysia sends a letter to the MW’s lawyers stating very clearly that they have investigated the matter, and have ordered that the MW is to be released from custody. (This letter was also copied to the Public Prosecutor’s office in Selangor)
11-4-2007 After receipt of the letter from Peguam Negara Malaysia, which was sent by normal post, the MW’s lawyers sent letters to all relevant parties enclosing the Peguam Negara’s letter, asking that the MW be immediately released from custody/detention.There was also verbal communication with the relevant parties.
13-4-2007 The Immigration Department in Putrajaya contacts the lawyers of the MW stating that the applicant will be released in Putrajaya, and that the lawyers need to be present with the original passport. It was clearly made known that the lawyers were the MW’s lawyers - not the lawyers of the employer.
The original passport of the MW was taken from the lawyers, and the Immigration Department said that they had to wait for the employer to come before the MW was released.
When the employer’s representative arrived, the original passport was handed to the employer’s representative by the Immigration Department despite protests from the lawyers and the Applicant. - based on the Affidavits affirmed and filed in court, and also the oral and written submissions in court.
On the hearing date, the High Court threw out the application for habeas corpus because the Migrant Worker had been released already.
I am sure that there are many simialr cases of Migrant Workers (or Refugees even) that get arrested and detained unnecessarily because they could not produce their original passport.
HUMAN Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam should not be questioning the need for employers to hold the passport of migrant workers --- nor should he be only advising migrant workers 'not to hand over their passports to their employers'. He must also tell employers not to hold on to these passports. There must be strict enforcement of the law against employers who do so...
The Minister must also ensure that appropriate temporary documents are given to workers when passports are sent to Immigration Department for visa applications and/or renewals - and that all (police, Immigration, Detention Centres Authorities, and others) do recognize these appropriate temporary documents as being valid papers in lieu of the original passport.
If a MW is arrested and detained - then an EMPLOYER shall be made liable to pay the MW compensation and damages.
Migrant Workers .....mmm let's also not forget about that Malaysian pregnant mother who was detained as an undocumented migrant for almost a year because she did not have her NRIC card with her. See my earlier postings on the Rajeshvari Scandal : PM need assure us no other cases like this...
We may not be able to do much about what happens in the whole of Malaysia - but surely something can be done immediately in the 5 Pakatan Rakyat States of Selangor, Perak, Pulau Pinang, Kedah and Kelantan - to prevent unnecessary and/or wrongful arrest and detention of migrants (or even Malaysians).