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June 1999, Volume 6, Number 6

Malaysia: Patrols

The Malaysian government announced that it will increase patrols along its borders and coastlines to ensure that illegal immigrants do not flood the country before Indonesia's June 7 general elections. The Malaysian government is concerned that pre-election violence in Indonesia might increase illegal immigration. In 1998, thousands of families, many of them ethnic Chinese, fled to Malaysia during political violence in Indonesia.

The Malaysian government requires employers and foreign workers to pay various fees to government and private agencies for workers compensation insurance and social security. The government is now considering modifying both. Foreign workers in Malaysia are currently insured under the Foreign Workers Compensation Scheme (FWCS); their employers pay M$86 a year for each foreign worker they hire. In addition, employers may insure their workers through 11 insurance companies approved by the government; some employers want more choice in order to keep down company fees.

Malaysia requires employers to contribute 1.75 percent of foreign workers monthly pay to the Social Security Organisation (Socso); foreign workers contribute 0.5 percent of their earnings. However, few foreign workers receive social security benefits.

Sabah. Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Osu Haji Sukam said in May 1999 that illegal immigration is a major state problem; 8,000 foreign workers have left their employers and 20 employers have been prosecuted for hiring under-aged foreigners. There are 157,000 registered foreign workers in Sahah, an additional 100,000 unregistered foreign workers--however, 200,000 foreigners registered during a recent amnesty that permitted them to leave Sabah without paying fines. Sabah's state government wants to build a new detention center on the West Coast of the island in Menggtal for 5,000 detainees.

Some illegal Filipino and Indonesian immigrants are living in unfinished houses in abandoned housing projects. To prevent squatting, the government says it plans to auction off the housing if the developers do not soon resume construction.

Hamisah Hamid, "Findings of study on extending Socso benefits," Business Times, May 13, 1999. "Malaysia to step up border patrols before Indonesian elections," AP, May 19, 1999.