The tantalizing promise held out to the undocumented foreign workers from Indonesia was that if they accepted the amnesty and returned to their homeland voluntarily before the Feb. 28 deadline, they would not only be allowed to come back to work in this country legally but also that this would be done speedily.
But the unfortunate reality is that this fast-track has not materialized. In its place are procedures which seem to be administered at a snail's pace. As a result, out of the hundreds of thousands of illegal Indonesian workers who have been repatriated, a mere 500 have made it back to Malaysia.
Malaysian employers desperately want them back and the Indonesians want to return. Yet thousands are still waiting anxiously for permission in the holding camps. This drawn-out process in getting Indonesian labor has badly hit the construction industry and plantations in particular.
Whatever the reasons may be, it is clear that this administrative snarl should not be allowed to continue because of its detrimental effects on all the affected parties. The challenge for both the Malaysian and Indonesian Governments is to quickly bring this farce to an end and devise effective measures to ensure that the recruitment of workers is done without consuming too much time or money. -- New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur