Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Malaysia To Issue 'E-Kad' For Illegal Foreign Workers Beginning Feb 15, 2017

NST Online

SHAH ALAM: The Immigration Department will begin issuing the Enforcement Card (e-kad) to illegal foreign workers to temporarily legalise their employment on Feb 15 this year. 

Each card is valid till Feb 15, 2018. Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said employers and their illegal workers have only until June 30 to apply for the e-kad. “

There will be no extension beyond June 30 and we are firm about this.

 “The e-kad will expire on Feb 15 next year, and during this one-year period, employers are advised to apply for their workers’ passports from their respective embassies and work permits.

 “Strict enforcement will be carried out on employers and their employees once the e-kad expires. We are expecting between 400,000 and 600,000 applications for workers in the plantation, agriculture, industrial, construction and service industries," said Mustafar. 

The e-kad, which will be issued for free, has safety features and the biometrics of the employer and their employees. It takes two days to process. 

Mustafar said applications can be made at Immigration Department headquarters and its state offices in Peninsular Malaysia. 

He added that the department is the sole authority issuing the e-kad and urged employers not to apply through middlemen or agents. Mustafar was speaking in a press conference after visiting the Kompleks PKNS Shah Alam, here, today.

                 Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali.





Thursday, January 5, 2017

Myanmar Faces Danger From IS Militants, Malaysian Police Say

NST Online


KUALA LUMPUR: Myanmar faces a growing danger of attacks by foreign supporters of Islamic State (IS) recruited from Southeast Asian networks in support of persecuted Muslim Rohingyas, Malaysia’s top counter-terrorism official has said.

 Malaysian authorities have detained a suspected IS follower planning to head to Myanmar to carry out attacks, the head of the Malaysian police counter-terrorism division, Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, said in an interview. 

The suspect, an Indonesian whom he did not identify, was detained in Malaysia last month. 

The suspect was scheduled to be charged on Wednesday for possession of materials linked to terrorist groups, which carries a seven-year jail term or fine, Ayob Khan said. 

More militants are likely to try to follow his lead in support of the Rohingya cause, Ayob Khan said. 

“He was planning to perform jihad in Myanmar, fighting against the Myanmar government for this Rohingya group in Rakhine State,” Ayob Khan said. A Myanmar army sweep since October in the north of Rakhine State, on its border with Bangladesh, has sent about 34,000 members of the Rohingya minority fleeing into Bangladesh, the United Nations says. 

Residents and rights groups accuse security forces in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar of summary executions and rape in the army operation, launched in response to attacks on police posts on Oct. 9 that killed nine officers. 

The government of Aung San Suu Kyi denies the accusations of abuse. Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay told Reuters an official report into October’s violence in Rakhine state found no evidence of an IS presence there or that the attacks were linked to IS.

 LIGHTNING ROD 

The conflict in Rakhine risks becoming a lightning rod for Islamists in a shadowy network stretching from the Philippines to Indonesia and Malaysia, with links to Islamic State in the Middle East, security analysts and officials say. Scores of Southeast Asian Muslims, most from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, have travelled to the Middle East to join IS, counter-terrorism police in the region said. 

Over the past year, IS has claimed several attacks - or been linked to foiled plots - in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

 “There is a high possibility that Muslims, be it from IS or other groups, will find the ways and means to go to Myanmar to help their Rohingya Muslim brothers,” Ayob Khan said. 

The Indonesian suspect was among seven people arrested for suspected links to IS. The suspect was also involved in a plot to smuggle weapons to Indonesia’s Poso region, on Sulawesi island, Ayob Khan said.

 Indonesian authorities have detained several suspected foreign militants trying to reach Poso. Ayob Khan did not say what group the suspect, a factory worker who had been in Malaysia since 2014, was trying to link up with in Myanmar. 

He said the suspect, was in contact with Muhammad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi, a Syria-based Malaysian militant who claimed responsibility on behalf of IS for a grenade attack on a bar in June last year. 

The International Crisis Group think-tank said in a report last month the coordinated attacks on Myanmar police in Rakhine State were carried out by a group called Harakah al-Yakin. While the group had links to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, it would be wrong to “over-interpret the significance of the international links“, ICG said.

“Nevertheless, the longer violence continues, the greater the risks become of such links deepening and potentially becoming operational,” it said. 

LARGE POOL OF RECRUITS

 Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, have led calls in Southeast Asia for Myanmar to stop the violence against the Rohingya. 

Rohingya have for years been fleeing persecution in Myanmar, which denies them citizenship because it sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They often wash up on Southeast Asian shores in rickety boats seeking asylum. 

More than 55,000 Rohingyas are registered with the United Nations in Malaysia. Non-profit groups estimate as many as 200,000 Rohingyas are living in Malaysia, many working in restaurants and constructions sites. Analysts warn the large number of Rohingya migrants are a potential pool of recruits for militants. 

“The network between Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Rohingyas is there,” 

said Badrul Hisham Ismail, programme executive director of the Malaysian counter-militancy group, Iman Research. Ismail said his group had discovered Malaysian militants involved in recruiting Rohingyas and sending them to Poso for training. 

Rohan Gunaratna, a security expert at Singapore’s Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said Islamic State operatives in the region were “determined to mount attacks both inside Myanmar and against Myanmar targets overseas.

” In November, Indonesian authorities detained an Islamic State-linked militant for planning an attack on the Myanmar embassy there.

 “The highest threat to Myanmar emanates from Islamic State networks,” Rohan said.

 “The Rohingya conflict is emerging as one of the rallying issues for IS. At a strategic level, Myanmar should resolve the Rohingya conflict to prevent IS influence and expansion.”--REUTERS

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Almost 50,000 Illegal Immigrants Detained This Year

NST Online

KUALA LUMPUR: As many as 49,222 illegal immigrants were detained throughout the country from Jan 1 till Dec 18, the Senate was told yesterday. 

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said during this period, 169,712 illegal immigrants joined the Voluntary Deportation (3+1) Programme to return home.

 "For the record, under the 3+1 programme, which began on July 22, 2014, 452,779 illegal immigrants had voluntarily agreed to return to their home countries, but they will be blacklisted before they are sent back," he said when answering a question from Senator Rahimah Mahamad who wanted to know the statistics of foreigners without legal permits in the country, as well as the measures taken to curb their entry here. 

Nur Jazlan said as of Nov 30, the Immigrant Department recorded 1,856,869 legitimate foreign workers in the country. 

He stressed that the ministry, through the Immigration Department, had taken various measures to ensure no foreign nationals entered the country without valid travel documents, including the process of early screening through visa issuance at the embassy or Malaysian representative's office abroad. 

Nur Jazlan said in addition, the department also screened the data of foreigners at the country's entry points through the National Enforcement and Registration Biometric System (NERS) for individuals on its list of suspects. -- Bernama

Friday, April 29, 2016

Aung San Suu Kyi called for a 21st-century Panglong conference

ELEVEN

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi called for a 21st-century Panglong conference when she was visiting the Joint Monitoring Committee meeting held at Horizon Lake View Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.
It was the first meeting between Suu Kyi and the committee since the new government came to power.
The Panglong Agreement was reached in Panglong, southern Shan State, between General Aung San and the Shan, Kachin, and Chin peoples on February 12, 1947. The agreement accepted "full autonomy in internal administration for the frontier areas" and envisioned a federal union. It is celebrated in Myanmar as Union Day each February 12.
Suu Kyi said: “We can attract non-signatories to the nationwide ceasefire agreement by showcasing the fruitful results of the ceasefire through clear-cut transparency. At the same time, we could start working to show the benefits of peace.
“Some people name the peace conference a 'second Panglong'. It doesn’t matter whether it is a second or third Panglong or not. I don’t want to buy the time to hold a 21st-century Panglong conference and want to finalise the processes within one or two months. Our country is thirsty for peace and it is a daily essential. Many people across the country have to bear the brunt of war. Even one day is crucial. We should seek ways to start holding a peace conference successfully and rapidly in order that people can earn a living peacefully. I would like to urge committee members to share their knowledge with me. We should seek ways to include non-signatories in the peace talks,” she added.
“There is give and take when we do a job, especially in collective works. We mainly need to think about what we can give. Nothing will happen if individuals look to gain. Individuals need to think about what we can do for the country. It is difficult for us to make peace and become united if we prioritise our desires. We can maintain the ceasefire and create a situation for participation of non-signatories in the ceasefire simultaneously.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

UNHCR says it has no control over fake refugee cards

The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it has no control over fake refugee cards being circulated, saying that the market exists as refugee status is not given out easily.
UNHCR Malaysia representative Richard Towle said that they had issued about 158,000 cards and that it was possible to replicate features of a legitimate card to make a fake.
Towle said a card featured in a recent news report was fake, as its details did not match that in their database.
"Somebody in the community has paid money to get a false card, it has nothing to do with the UNHCR," Towle told The Star Online.
Towle said that UNHCR had robust and rigorous procedures to decide on a person's refugee status, adding that their card system was controlled very tightly.
He said that they collected biometric data such as fingerprints and even retinal scans.
"We have procedures so the most vulnerable people get our help as quickly as possible," he said.
Towle added they were not concerned about the number of cards issued, saying that it was more important that it was issued to those who actually needed protection.
He said that local authorities could verify if a UNHCR card was genuine via the Internet or by calling a hotline, and added that they had a high degree of cooperation with the Government.
As of end February 2016, there are some 158,510 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia with about 145,000 of them from Myanmar.
There are another 14,120 refugees and asylum-seekers from other countries, including from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Somalia, Syrian, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Iran.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

IS targeting some 220,000 Rohingya refugees vulnerable to radicalisation

The Star Online

MALAYSIA carried out more than 100 arrests of people suspected of having links to the Islamic State (IS) terror group and foiled seven terrorist plots last year.
Indonesia made at least 74 terror-related arrests and prevented nine plots last year – yet an attack occurred in Jakarta on Jan 14 this year.
By the year end, 150 people now imprisoned in Indonesian jails for terror-related offences will be released. And at least 100 Indonesians have returned from Syria, while 200 others have been deported by Turkey while trying to get there.
These worrying developments in Singapore's immediate neighbours were cited by the island nation's home affairs minister K. Shanmugam in a speech to some 300 senior Home Team officers Friday, where he outlined strategies Singapore was taking to counter the growing terror threat.
The rise of IS means that the threat of a terror attack here is at its highest level in recent times. So countermeasures have to be stepped up, he told the Home Team Leaders' Forum, an annual platform for the minister to update top officers of Home Team agencies on key issues and strategic directions for the year ahead.
Singapore home affairs minister K. Shanmugam.- AFP

"In 2015, we saw the terror threat morph into a very different, newer, much more powerful large monster.
"It is now a qualitatively different and much more dangerous threat. IS presents a far graver threat than Al-Qaeda and its affiliates ever were," he said.
Last year, IS directed or inspired at least 56 attacks outside Iraq and Syria. Many targeted civilians, and Shanmugam cited seven major attacks this year alone.
IS' control of large territories and oil resources has also earned it hundreds of millions of dollars.
It also uses social media skilfully, makes people believe they need to kill in the name of God, and has recruited over 30,000 foreign fighters - some 1,000 of them from South-east Asia.
"In scale, network, finances, propaganda, IS is at a different level and sophistication compared with other terrorist groups," he said.
IS also seeks to set up a regional caliphate that includes Singapore.
Shanmugam had, in a speech two months ago, set out at length how the political backdrop in the region made it fertile ground for a climate of rising extremism.
"We have to keep that political backdrop (in mind) because when politics fails, then everything else fails, and that is unfortunately happening," he said.
He noted how in Malaysia, some of those arrested for IS links were commandos, police officers and civil servants. There was also a substantial threat posed by "clean skins" - people with no criminal records and who are not under the scrutiny of security agencies.
They come together through social media, and last April, Malaysia arrested 12 such militants who could get past immigration checks undetected if they travelled.
"Every day, we have more than 400,000 persons crossing our land checkpoints in Woodlands and Tuas both ways. In Woodlands alone, we have about 90,000 travellers via motorcycles and 80,000 travellers via cars, every single day," he said.
"You can work out for yourself the nature of the threat to us, from a would-be terrorist in Malaysia."
"When we complain about jams, one has got to take it in perspective, but it is very difficult to bring this point across to the broader public. The checks are necessary," he said.
As for Indonesia, he said some pro-IS groups are coming together under the banner of Jamaah Ansharul Khilafah. Other groups are also competing for attention, raising the risk of one-upmanship attacks.
The situation is exacerbated by shortcomings in Indonesian law, which currently does not allow for the detention of those who want to join IS. As a result, home-grown terrorists, individuals who are released, and those who have returned from Syria and Iraq are coalescing.
The last group poses a significant risk as they are battle-hardened with combat skills and violent tendencies, Shanmugam noted.
"They want to destroy what there is and replace (it) with what there is in Iraq and Syria, and in territories in control by them," he said.
South-east Asian militants in Syria and Iraq are also actively encouraging militants in the region to strike.
They include IS' Malay Archipelago Unit leader Bahrun Naim, who has encouraged attacks in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
Last year, Thailand was hit by bombings in Bangkok's Siam Paragon mall in February, in Koh Samui in April, and at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok in August.
Some Philippine and Malaysian militants have reportedly pledged allegiance to IS, which could lead to the setting up of a wilayat or province in southern Philippines.
Shanmugam noted that extremist Uighur militants have also linked up with militant networks in this region, and as many as 3,500 Uighurs are fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Groups sympathetic to the perceived mistreatment of Uighurs in China could also target Chinese interests in South-east Asia and elsewhere. In Turkey, the Thai consulate was attacked after Thailand deported 109 Uighurs in July last year.
The Rohingya issue also has potential security implications, with IS targeting some 220,000 Rohingya refugees vulnerable to radicalisation in camps in Malaysia and Thailand. Shanmugam noted that the Rohingya have attempted retaliatory attacks on Myanmar interests.
"There are multiple layers of threats in this region - complex, interwoven, fusing religion with domestic political grievances," he said. "And we are in the middle, an oasis of calm, and a prime target for all." - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bangladesh agrees to send 1.5 million workers to Malaysia

NST Online

KUALA LUMPUR: Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given the nod to send 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia. Bangladeshi cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said its prime minister had approved the memorandum of understanding (Mou), expected to be signed with Malaysia within a month, as reported by bdnews24.com. 

He said the Bangladeshi workers will be sent under a 'G2G Plus' system after the 'Business to Business' (B2B) and 'Government to Government' (G2G) methods did not yield expected results. “It is a major achievement of Bangladesh that Malaysia has listed us as a source country [from which to recruit manpower].

 "Now workers can be sent for the service, manufacture and construction sectors. Earlier it was limited to plantation only,” he was quoted as saying. 

Shafiul said once the Mou is signed, the expenditure to send a worker is between Tk34,000 and 37,000 with employers to bear the cost. Malaysia is the one of the biggest manpower markets for Bangladesh as around 600,000 Bangladeshis are currently working in the country.