KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — The government has yet to decide on making identification wristbands for migrant workers compulsory, said Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob following strong reactions from human rights groups and industry players.
Ismail Sabri who is defence minister in charge of the security during the Covid-19 pandemic added that the identification wristbands was only a proposal to be decided by the National Security Council (NSC), The Star reported today.
“It is still at the proposal stage and I will present it to the National Security Council (NSC) today before any decision is made,” he was quoted saying.
Government officials had mooted the identification wristband proposal for “surveillance” following a surge in Covid-19 infections among foreign workers, mostly in the construction sector.
The idea has drawn flak from industries and rights groups, who said the move would deepen prejudice and xenophobia against an already stigmatised community.
Some critics even likened the idea to Nazism.
They urged the government to solve the root cause of the problem instead such as improving housing. A majority of foreign workers live in cramped dormitories, where the highly contagious disease can easily spread.
Earlier this week Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof said NSC had urged inter-ministerial cooperation to tackle the surge of cases among foreign workers.
“The NSC held a special meeting on Wednesday night and, among others, agreed that the Housing and Local Government Ministry and Human Resources Ministry draft a comprehensive plan for foreign workers housing, accommodation and facilities,” he said when answering a question in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof has pledged action, according to The Star. The minister reportedly said he would consult industry players first on the proposal.
“I will listen to the proposal (by Ismail Sabri) first and talk to industry players to get their feedback before deciding, “ Fadillah was quoted as saying.
The construction industry is the largest employer of foreign workers in the country by sector.
Construction falls under the Works Ministry.