Undocumented workers will not be arrested for vaccination

The MoHA and MoHR will finalise an implementation plan to ensure foreign workers will come forward and get vaccinated

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by ARIF KARTONO

THE government assures that all foreigners, including undocumented workers and refugees will not be left behind in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, in line with the target to reach herd immunity in the country.

Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) chairman Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and the Human Resources Ministry (MoHR) will finalise an implementation plan to ensure foreign workers will come forward and get vaccinated.

While MoHA — through immigration department — will have all relevant data of legal foreign workers in the country, MoHR would help CITF trace undocumented workers through their employers.

At the same time, Khairy said the government will cooperate with NGOs and embassies to reach out to refugees in Malaysia for the vaccination.

What is important, Khairy said, is to get the message across on the importance of the vaccine and that those who have no document will not be reprimanded.

“I think this is the most important message that needs to be given — that they can come forward freely and they will be assured that the government will vaccinate them and not be arrested,” said the also Science, Technology and Innovation minister.

“For foreign workers with documents, we will work with their employers to ensure employers provide us with their information.

“It is so that we can make an appointment for them to receive the vaccine.

“We need to build trust in this community for them to come forward voluntarily, so that we can vaccinate them,” he told a media conference after announcing the CITF formation in Putrajaya yesterday.

“Meanwhile, those who do not possess documentation must approach their embassies to be brought out and vaccinated without being arrested,” he added.

The assurance is given as series of raid and detention was made by immigration officers in several areas last year, whereby undocumented immigrants were brought to detention centres.

Additionally, it was also reported that door-to-door inspection was conducted and those who did not have documents were taken by the authority.

It is estimated that there are some three million legal foreign workers in Malaysia, while the number of undocumented foreigners are larger, at about four million people working in various sectors in the economy, including the manufacturing and construction.

Khairy also assured that expatriate groups will also be vaccinated by the government.

Malaysia is expected to receive the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc-BioNTech SE this Sunday, involving some 312,390 doses to be flown to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, before the immunisation programme is rolled out on Feb 26.

Each individual needs two doses and Putrajaya has secured 12.8 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Khairy said the CITF has identified 300,000 health workers that will be vaccinated, while the task force — which comprise the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health is still deliberating on non-health officers like the police and the army.

CITF project management team will be co-directed by the deputy DG of Health (Public Health) Datuk Dr Chong Chee Keong and deputy chief of army General Datuk Mohammad Ab Rahman.


Read our previous report here

Logistics among the challenges in vaccine distribution, says Khairy