Home Ministry to continue vetting foreign workers despite HR Ministry handling hiring

KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Ministry will continue to oversee the security vetting of foreign workers, even though the Human Resources Ministry would be handling their hiring.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said this was to safeguard the sovereignty and security of the country against undesirable elements.

"We will vet and monitor the entry of all foreign nationals to ensure that they enter our shores to work and live here legally, and adhere to the laws of our country.

"Anyone who is blacklisted will not be able to come here," he said in response to the recent announcement that the Human Resources Ministry would now handle the one-stop recruitment and management centre for foreign workers' approval.

It was reported that 230,000 foreign workers had been approved for local recruitment, while thousands more were being sought.

Hamzah said his ministry was also monitoring the approval of foreign security guards and domestic helpers, as their safety while working in the country came under its purview.

He said this ensured that the guards and domestic helpers were accorded proper working and living conditions to avoid social ills.

"Although the Human Resources Ministry is responsible for labour policy in hiring suitably qualified foreigners for various job markets, my ministry will approve their work permits if they fulfilled the required conditions," said Hamzah.

He added that to improve the vetting and security systems, the government had allocated nearly RM1 billion to upgrade the Immigration Department with up-to-date, comprehensive, sophisticated and customer-friendly equipment that incorporated the Internet of Things, big data and artificial intelligence.

Hamzah said that of the total allocation, nearly RM900 million would be spent to modernise the Immigration Department with 61 projects that began last year.

This latest initiative, he said, included the National Integrated Immigration System (NIISe) project undertaken via collaboration with more than 12 main contractors.

The NIISe, thus, would address the weaknesses found in the two-decade-old Malaysian Immigration System (MyIMMs), which was unable to track the movement of foreigners and frequently broke down.

"NIISe is an integrated data analytical system that incorporates the risk assessment of a foreigner by tracking his movement overseas before arriving here.

"The system optimises a very detailed vetting of the person -- via the Automated Biometric Identification System, Advance Passenger Screening, big data analytics, wireless Enhanced Long Term Evolution (eLTE) Rapid System and Geographical Information System -- to ensure that the foreigner is not involved in any criminal intent or activity," said Hamzah.

He was speaking at the contract handing-over ceremony for NIISe vendors at the Royale Chulan Hotel in Jalan Conlay here.

He reminded the contractors to be responsible as the ministry would not compromise on national security at any level.

Hamzah said to monitor errant contractors, a third party had been roped in to regulate, monitor, evaluate, test, audit, verify and validate their systems to adhere to required specifications and quality.

"NIISe will be fully implemented by 2024, making Malaysia one of the best in the world to implement thorough screening and vetting of immigrants.

"We need to upgrade our technology and systems from time to time to remain relevant in this rapidly evolving society," he said.

Hamzah cited how his ministry had facilitated new auto-gate systems at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex in Johor to ease the movement of people.

"Most of the systems there are over 20 years old and need to be upgraded. Likewise, we are also working on upgrading outdated systems at other border checkpoints nationwide," he said.

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