Press Statement By Irene Chang:
With the recent news on the 94 illegal foreign workers who were tested positive for Covid-19 in Sibu recently, it is clear that there might still be a lot out there who are positive and have not been detected.
While steps need to be taken to prevent more foreign workers from coming in illegally through the rat trails along the borders with Indonesia, SDMC would need a different approach to deal with those who are already in the state.
For those already in the state, I call on the government to practice damage control by encouraging these illegal immigrants to come out to be tested, vaccinated or quarantined, if they are found positive. These illegals can then be legalised into the workforce in the community to resolve the shortage of manpower, especially in the plantation and construction sectors. Alternatively, they may opt to return to their own country.
Both options may be done under the national recalibration programme which had been extended nationally until December 31 in order to support the implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK). Even though Sarawak is included in the programme, there is unfortunately not sufficient information on the programme and its implementation in the state.
I therefore call on the state immigration to reveal clear and full details on the process of application, the time frame and cost involved and other relevant information to assist all those who may be interested in the programme. The state immigration should also reveal the numbers of successful applications under the programme since the start of its implementation in March until June 15 this year before it was extended to the end of this year. All these would encourage and assure the illegal immigrants that they may come forward to be documented and vaccinated without facing the full wrath of the law.
Having said that, I also call on the people of Sarawak not to resort to bring these people into the state illegally. It is understood that when an industry needs the employment of a large numbers of foreign workers, the cost and hassle involve in going through the legal channels can be very daunting. However, the repercussion of illegal immigrants in our state who are found positive with Covid-19 and passing on to others in our society is much more serious especially when we are now dealing with the Delta variant. We have seen how many of our children have been infected and the death cases among them.
Hence, I call on the state government to give priority to the recalibration programme in order that the high numbers of positive cases among the illegal immigrants and by the illegal immigrants may be speedily curbed.