Sponsor them, Hamzah tells MPs critical of migrant crackdown

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Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin today urged elected representatives fighting for the rights of undocumented migrants to be their “sponsor” and assist in the vaccination process.

Speaking to reporters, Hamzah said it would be impossible to administer vaccines to individuals who are undocumented, as there would be no way to keep track of their status here.

“For example, Ustaz Hasanuddin, get a person with no documents, come and see us, go to the embassy, get them documented and then we will vaccinate them,” said Hamzah in reference to Hulu Langat MP Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus.

Hasanuddin was among two groups of MPs and other elected officials who had lambasted Hamzah over a planned joint operation to arrest undocumented migrants.

Hamzah also said any undocumented migrants arrested in the operations will be asked if they have an employer here and the employer would be made responsible to register them.

“For some of them (migrants) living in the rural areas, will they dare to come out (to get vaccinated)?

Mohd Sahar Misni/The Star

“Of course, they don’t dare, because how do they explain their status? What documents do they have? Nothing,” said Hamzah.

“That is why we are doing this (operations) for the good of the people.

“To the YBs fighting for these people with no documents, I ask for them to be a sponsor to the undocumented migrants,” he said.

When pointed out that Science and Technology Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had previously pledged for safety of undocumented migrants who wished to be vaccinated, Hamzah insisted the matter had been discussed.

“In the discussion with Khairy, I said I wanted them (undocumented migrants) to have a sponsor.

“If they have an employer but no documents, we will assist them to get their documents,” said Hamzah.

On Feb 16, Khairy said that undocumented foreign nationals will not be arrested when they come forward for Covid-19 vaccinations, adding that this assurance was crucial in achieving herd immunity.

Aside from Hasanuddin and the 15 other opposition MPs, deputy speaker Azalina Osman Said and infectious disease expert Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman were among members of the Party Parliamentary Group Malaysia for the Reform of Prisons and All Places of Detention (APPGM) group who similarly chided Hamzah.

The 15 other opposition MPs were Sivarasa Rasiah (Sungai Buloh), Maria Chin Abdullah, (Petaling Jaya), Kasthuri Patto (Batu Kawan), Charles Santiago (Klang), Dr Maszlee Malik (Simpang Renggam), Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah (Kubang Pasu) Hassan Karim (Pasir Gudang), Elizabeth Wong (Bukit Lanjan), Hee Loy Sian (Kajang), Lee Khai Loon (Machang Bubok), Natrah Ismail (Sekijang), Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof (Parit Buntar), Chan Ming Kai (Alor Star), Ginie Lim (Machap Jaya) and Sim Tze Tzin (Bayan Baru).

Critics of the crackdown had previously raised concerns that undocumented migrants would refuse to come forward and be vaccinated should they be threatened with arrests and possible deportation.

They had also raised concerns that the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic last year saw multiple detention clusters in prisons and Immigration depots, a situation which Hamzah said is being addressed through the new satellite prison and depots.

Hamzah said that almost 80,000 illegal immigrants have returned to their homeland via the repatriation recalibration programme, while another 108,000 immigrants had registered for the labour recalibration programme.

Earlier reports:

May 31, Santiago: Going after migrants is beyond stupid

May 30, After conflicting statements, Khairy to discuss migrant issue with Hamzah

May 29, Immigration to go after undocumented migrants during lockdown