PUTRAJAYA, Jan 31 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the Cabinet today agreed to extend the freeze on the hiring of foreign workers.

“It has been agreed that what we imposed in March last year will be extended, which means the Cabinet approved today an extension to the freeze on foreign worker applications.

“Why? Because with the approved quota amount, plus the registered recalibration programme, we can meet our labour needs.

“So the policy to freeze the quota continues,” he said during a press conference at his ministry, here.

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Saifuddin said the Cabinet also agreed to revisit the memoranda of understanding (MoU) with Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia on the hiring and recruitment of foreign workers.

He said this was because the three countries contribute 77 per cent of foreign workers in the country.

On January 16, Saifuddin said the government will revisit all MoUs with 15 source countries on the hiring and recruitment of foreign workers.

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In the same press conference, he announced a new programme of repatriation involving migrant workers.

The programme intends to allow migrant workers to return to their home country without being prosecuted in Malaysia.

“The Labour Recalibration Programme 2.0, which ended on December 31 last year, met the needs of the workforce. But there are also those who are already here, but not in the category of being part of the workforce. For this, we are holding a migrant repatriation programme, which the Cabinet agreed will start on March 1, 2024.

“After they pay the compound of RM500, they will be exempted from the prosecution process. On the other hand, we will invoke Act 155 under Section 6(1)(C) for entering Malaysia without valid documents and so on by imposing a compound of RM500. That will also invoke Section 15(1)C of the same Act which is the offence of overstaying in Malaysia. After the expiration of this period, we impose a compound of RM500. And we also invoke rule 39(B) of the Immigration Regulations 1963 which is the offence of breaching conditions with a compound rate of RM300.

“So we will publicise this repatriation amnesty programme to those involved,” he said.