On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Explain delay in crackdown

So were those of other officials from the Home Ministry,
including minister Datuk Azmi Khalid, who had earlier chaired a meeting with
ministry and immigration officers.

Ironically, the minister's press secretary Tajuddin Saman had sent a note to
all media organisations asking them to give prominent coverage to the impending
nationwide crackdown on illegal workers and employers.

The note, dated Dec 15, stated that the amnesty period would expire on Dec 31
and that from Jan 1 various actions would be carried out to arrest illegal

The names and mobile telephone numbers of two officers, Ishak and Rela
director-general Datuk Mahadi Arshad, were given, stating that the coverage
would act as a "psy war" against the illegals.

But on Monday evening, the press got word that the crackdown had to be
postponed – but no reasons were given.

Tajuddin met the reporters after 5pm and told them that "my boss has been
summoned by the PM."

If the media were at a loss, so were state immigration officials.

All they were told, via SMS, was that they had to be on standby for new
directives about the raids involving 560,000 men from Rela.

This flip-flop decision-making style does not augur well for the

It gives the impression of indecisiveness and flawed co-ordination but most all
it may send the wrong message to the illegal immigrants and errant

According to Bernama, Mahadi was quoted as saying that the operation had to be
postponed because the ministry had to determine the number of illegal

If he is correctly quoted, it is strange because surely the authorities must
have a clear estimate of the number of illegal foreigners in the first

One speculation is that Indonesia and the Philippines have requested Malaysia
to delay the crackdown but no one wants to confirm whether this is true.

If we are serious about this whole exercise, then we should just get on with

Enough notice has been given to the illegals and we are only kidding ourselves
if we believe that the situation would be better if the amnesty period is
further extended.

The crackdown has the support of most Malaysians because we believe the country
has too many illegals.

We have had to put up with many social problems for too long.

Local traders in Kuala Lumpur complain of being squeezed out by aggressive
foreigners, hospital staff grumble about the increasing number of foreigners
who give birth in the maternity wards while many Malaysian households worry
about the increasing crime caused by foreigners, even if some said that the
figures showed otherwise.

Without doubt, Malaysians need foreigners as maids and construction, factory
and restaurant workers.

We need them but a more organised manner of recruitment and employment is

Like Singapore, we should even get them to contribute to a central employment

But impression counts and any popular government, which has to go to the polls
every five years must be sensitive to the feelings of voting Malaysians.
Already many have questioned, and rightly so, why so many Indonesians, with no
skills and qualifications, become permanent residents so easily when foreign
spouses of Malaysians, who are professionals, have problems getting that piece
of paper.

There is more confusion.

Acting Inspector-General of Police Datuk Musa Hassan has said that the police
would not be involved in the current operation to round up illegals or keep
them in lock-ups because they have not been told.

Worse, he said the police was not even called to attend any meetings by the
Immigration Department nor were they asked about the procedures of detaining
illegal immigrants.

This is certainly upsetting as the role of the police is crucial.

We are talking about the nation's security and it is essential that the police
are involved as they are the ones with arresting powers.

Musa has correctly said that Rela members can only assist and not arrest

It is good and timely advice because these uniformed volunteers sometimes
forget their limitations in their eagerness to carry out their duties.

Malaysians, including the media, deserve an explanation for the lapse of
information, particularly after the request for media hype.