Wednesday, January 20, 2010

35,103 prisoners - 10,800 foreigners (50% immigration offence), 31 prisons (8 overcrowded). How many remand prisoners? How many tried/convicted prison

35,103 prisoners - 10,800 foreigners (50% immigration offence), 31 prisons (8 overcrowded). How many remand prisoners? How many tried/convicted prisoners?

31 Prisons in Malaysia
8 are overcrowded

"...Zulkifli [Prisons Department Director-General Datuk Zulkifli Omar] said eight of the 31 prison institutions in the country were still over-crowded..." - Star, 20/1/2010, New parole system proves to be successful
35,103 prisoners nationwide, of which 10,800 are foreigners

With regard the foreigner prisoners, 50% of the cases involved breaking immigration rules
He [Prisons Department Director-General Datuk Zulkifli Omar] also noted that one-third of the prisoners were foreigners and 50% of the cases involved breaking immigration rules. “We have 35,103 prisoners nationwide, of which 10,800 are foreigners.’’ - Star, 20/1/2010, New parole system proves to be successful
Sadly, we have not been told as to how many are prisoners who have been tried and convicted, and how many of these are really remand prisoners (i.e. those who are still waiting for their trial to be over [or maybe even start] )

With regard to persons who have yet to be tried, convicted and sentenced - generally for the majority of the cases they have a right to be bailed out, and if they are, then they would not have to languish in prisons whilst waiting for the trial to complete.

However the fact is that there are many, especially the poor, who just do not have money or resources to get bailed out. In Malaysia, we need money to be put in - not just the promise to pay later in the event that the accused 'runs away and not attend court' . So how many can afford to raise and pay RM2,000, RM3,000 or more for bail (remember we will not be able to access or use this money until the trial is all over, and the accused is either convicted or acquitted). Hence, many of the poor will not be able to afford bail - and/or find persons that will stand as sureties. Hence, they do languish in these 'remand prisons' - and some have been known to have even spend more time than the maximum sentence of the offence that they have been charged with - and here in Malaysia, their is still no compensation for this loss of liberty in criminal cases. [This is why many of these 'poor' may just plead guilty, even if they are innocent, because then they can just serve whatever sentence, get out fast and move on with their lives...].

When it comes to foreigners, it is even worse.

Bail - Difficult to find the money for Bail

Sureties - Normally, the court will require 1 or 2 sureties, and the Court may ask that these be Malaysians, and note that it is the sureties who usually have to open an account under their name, and the put the required monies into these accounts, which are then frozen to prevent the 'bail money' to be taken out without a court order.

Documents - Visas/Work Passes/Work Permits have expired, and unless the additional step is taken by their lawyers to get the Immigration Department to renew these visas - they cannot legally be let free to remain in the country. Immigration Department would most likely only issue them 'Special Passes', i.e. monthly passes costing RM100-00 per renewal. Courts will require the undertakings of lawyers of migrants to take their passports for the purposes of applying for these 'Special Passes', and thereafter returning the said Passports for the court's safekeeping. Everytime a renewal is required, there is a need to get a court letter, get the passports to the Immigration Department, pay the money, get the special passes, and then return the Passports to court. Everytime the passports expire, again it is required to go to the relevant embassy and get it renewed - and the migrant will be required to pay the requisite fee. Further, for the purposes of renewal, the holder's physical presence will be required, and this again is difficult especially at the first instance of application when the bail is granted.

Passports - Courts generally order that the passports be deposited in court to prevent the foreigner from 'running away'. Now, even when it comes to documented migrants, employers/agents hold these passports - and the accused does not even have it on them.

Given all the above circumstances, that is the reason why many foreigners, who really are remand prisoners waiting for their trial, will end up in the prisons.

Many foreigners also, by all these difficulties like the poorer Malaysians, may just plead guilty even if they are innocent so that the court can impose a definite sentence that they can carry out in the prison and move on --- but alas, unlike the Malaysians, they may not be released because their passports and visas may have expired and they cannot leave prisons and enjoy freedom until their documents are in order...

Hence, more foreigners in prison..

It will be better to look at statistics of foreigners/Malaysians tried and convicted of the more serious crimes before we can make any conclusions about foreigners and crimes in Malaysia.

Language is also a problem - interpreters many a time do not come free, and this inability to communicate effectively with the authorities, their lawyers, etc..

KAJANG: Prisoners on parole numbering 777 have successfully served their time outside the prison walls since the system was introduced 18 months ago, said Prisons Depart-ment director-general Datuk Zulkifli Omar.

Saying the success rate was very high, he added that only 20 of them were thrown back into prison for breaching the rules and that 193 convicts were still under parole.

He said a total of 990 convicts were eligible for parole under the system that was introduced in July 2008.

Asked if the system had helped reduce over-crowding, Zulkifli said eight of the 31 prison institutions in the country were still over-crowded.

“Eligibility for parole is limited to those who have served half their sentence,’’ he said after accompanying Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye to the Kajang Prison Complex here yesterday.

To further check prison overload, plans are in the pipeline to introduce a new prison system catering to specific categories such as remand cases, convicted cases, women and juvenile, he said.

He also noted that one-third of the prisoners were foreigners and 50% of the cases involved breaking immigration rules. “We have 35,103 prisoners nationwide, of which 10,800 are foreigners.’’

Meanwhile, Lee said the parole system was good to sensitise the public and potential employers to accept rehabilitated convicts.

“Through the system, convicts would be given a chance to prove their performance at work.
“Otherwise, under normal circumstances, employers tend to immediately reject applicants who are ex-convicts,’’ he said.

He also called on parents and the community to keep an eye on ex-convicts and give them the moral support for rehabilitation..- Star, 20/1/2010, New parole system proves to be successful

Friday, January 15, 2010

Removing 'visa on arrival' will affect Malaysia and Malaysians going abroad

It is that time of the year again for the Malaysian government to crackdown on undocumented migrants....and there will a crackdown..some deportation and then we will find employers group complaining about the lack of workers...and Malaysian government will again take in more migrants...

But, now they are 'stupidly' considering the removal of our visa on arrival.... Remember when they removed this for Indian nationals, India reciprocated by removing the same for Malaysians. How difficult it is for Malaysians intending to go to India...who will have to make trips(not one but at least 2) to busy KL to apply for and get visas to visit India. Now, they are thinking of doing it with regard to more stupid can they be?

The problem with Malaysian government is that they miss the point - and do funny things. The fact is that the majority of undocumented migrants enter not through the official entry points. And, as such the removal of that 'visa on arrival' will only affect the number of tourists coming from those countries..and increase difficulties for those coming to Malaysia for other legitimate purposes.

Historically, human persons have been migrating...and this does not stop at the borders which are really very artificial and 'fake'. Migration happens for a variety of reasons looking for a better job, wages, educational opportunities, etc... Even in Malaysia, people migrate away from their home to other places...Migration is a natural phenomena and it has always existed. So, why is the government trying to stop this...

Maybe, the solution is to ....what? Maybe just get employers to inform relevant authorities when they employ a new worker. That is what is being done when it comes to local workers...why not extend this to migrant workers as well.

In terms of students, many need to earn while they study... this is common. So, why don't the government also allow foreign students to work?

Cabinet panel to look into illegal workers


KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers will meet on Jan 19 to thrash out problems on illegal foreign workers in the country and so-called foreign students who have abused their student passes, the Home Ministry's secretary-general, Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam, said yesterday.
The committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, will look into loopholes that had been exploited by foreigners to overstay in the country or to carry out illegal activities, he told a discussion with senior media editors here.

Mahmood said the government was aware of the issues and would take a holistic and integrated approach to the problems, including tightening up the entry procedures.

For example, Mahmood said, the government would have to re-examine the visa-on-arrival programme, which was aimed at attracting more foreign tourists, as some had abused the privilege.

He also said that foreign students who were sponsored by their governments to study in Malaysia usually did not create problems.

"The problematic ones are usually those (from certain countries) who had come on their own to study at private colleges.

"These so-called foreign students are often detained for selling drugs and defrauding people, especially in counterfeit currencies," Mahmood said. -- Bernama - New Straits Times, 15/1/2010,Cabinet panel to look into illegal workers

Workers, not victims of trafficking

Do they know what is trafficking? Are these workers smuggled into the country or brought in against their will by human traffickers? Let us not treat undocumented migrants as trafficked victims. Just because the US is talking about 'human trafficking', let not Malaysia to please the US also start calling everything 'trafficking'.

Undocumented migrants are generally not victims of human trafficking, and certainly employers of these workers should not be facing the risk of being charged under the Anti-Trafficking laws.

The government must study the reasons why there exists undocumented migrants, and why people are employing these migrants - and the solution may be is not arrest, whipping, detention and deportation. Maybe, the government should consider giving work permits to undocumented migrants, placing the obligation of informing and registering these workers on their employers. This, I believe is a better solution.

Tougher penalties for hiring illegals


Farrah Naz Karim

Human trafficking law to be used from February 15.

PUTRAJAYA: There will be no second chance for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Come Feb 15, the authorities will throw the book at errant employers by also charging them under the the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (ATPA).

Currently, errant employers only face charges under the Immigration Act, which would see them being fined RM5,000 for each illegal worker. They also face whipping for harbouring illegals.

Errant employers will now face longer jail sentences and heavier fines when they are also charged under the ATPA.

Immigration director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman said harbouring or hiring illegal immigrants could be linked to offences under the APTA which include exploitation, debt bondage and slavery.

“These drastic measures are needed to curb the number of overstayers in the country.”

The department is now giving errant employers, including multinational companies, till Feb 15 to clean up their act, after which there will be no second chance.

He said during this period, the department would try to educate employers through associations, industries as well as fliers on the penalty for hiring or harbouring illegals.

“After that, we will go after them aggressively. They should come forward now because when we get them, charge them and push for maximum penalties, they cannot feign ignorance of the law," he said in an interview yesterday.

"Even if they come forward now and surrender their illegal workers, they would still have to face the law. They may get leniency from the department or from the court."

But there would be no leniency after Feb 15 as the chief justice, in a recent meeting with the department, had told prosecuting officers to push for the maximum sentence in each case, he said.

"We were told not to ask the court to use their discretion when sentencing those caught for hiring or harbouring illegals."

Rahman was responding to the issue of nearly 40,000 Indian citizens missing from Immigration records, stated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to visiting Indian journalists on Tuesday.

Rahman said the department could not give the exact number of foreigners who were overstaying here as many could have left Malaysia through illegal channels.

He said operations to weed out illegal immigrants would also focus on those who came into the country on student passes.

Last month alone saw 6,261 student passes issued in Peninsular Malaysia, with 1,014 granted to those from China (see table A). Last year, Sabah issued 150 student passes while Sarawak issued 8,306.

Rahman said many had abused the RM60-a-year pass to avoid heavier levies. Those who work in the service sector pay RM1,800 a year.

The department last year arrested 46,900 foreigners and locals for Immigration offences while 73 employers were charged with hiring illegals. More than 30 employers were also arrested for harbouring illegals.

Rahman said the country was also losing significantly in cash outflow where reports in 2006 revealed that US$2.7 billion (RM9.18 billion) was channelled out to Indonesia alone.

He said the current maximum fine of RM3,000 for overstaying, was not enough of a deterrent.

"Take a person working in the illicit flesh trade who makes RM300 a day and overstays for 60 days. They would have earned RM18,000. After being fined that amount, they would still return home with RM15,000."

Rahman said the department was expected to ensure tourists' arrivals were not impeded by strict enforcement at entry points.

He, however, revealed that the department had last year imposed the "Not Permitted to Land" ruling on 25,084 foreign individuals (refer to table B). - New Straits Times, 14/1/2010