Malaysian police on Wednesday night detained at least 80 Bangladeshi migrant workers allegedly working illegally in Kampung Raja area in the country's Pahang state.
The Bangladeshis, believed to be working at a construction site in Cameron Highlands, were picked up during two raids in Tringkap and Blue Valley of Kampung Raja, reported Malaysia's state news agency Bernama.
Talking to The Daily Star, Sayedul Islam, counsellor (Labour wing) at Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, said: “Although we didn't receive any official statement regarding the arrest of the Bangladeshi citizens, we have information that the Malaysian police have recently launched a crackdown on illegal foreigners in Cameron Highlands.”
About the status of Bangladeshis in other parts of Malaysia, Sayedul said there did not seem to be any problems right now.
Cameron Highlands district police chief DSP Wan Mohd Zahari Wan Busu said a preliminary investigation revealed that the detained workers were working without valid permits.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi yesterday said agents bringing foreign workers illegally into the country should be sentenced to mandatory caning for the offence.
He said he suggested this because imposing fines on agents did not seem very effective in deterring them from committing the offence again.
On Tuesday, Ahmad Zahid said he wanted local employers to hire foreign workers directly to avoid being cheated by unscrupulous parties.
“After receiving payment from employers, some agents don't pay the levy for the permits for recruited foreign workers,” he observed.
“This is what makes a legal foreign worker 'illegal' in the country, and also why those with expired employment periods become illegal,” mentioned the minister.