Abang Jo Awaits Directives From Putrajaya In Dealing With North Korean Workers

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Abang Johari

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg reiterates Wednesday he is still awaiting directives from the federal government in dealing with the 176 North Koreans still in the state.

He said the tense bilateral relationship between Malaysia and north Korea had only just flared up so the question remained whether they would be deported or otherwise.

Speaking to reporters at his office here, he said of the number 140 had been rounded up by the Immigration Department because their working permits had expired.

“They are mostly construction workers working in Lawas and Miri and of course they have to be deported.

“The 36 others, who are working in a coal mine in Selantik in Sri Aman Division, still have valid working pass. They are currently at their work site based on the list that we have,” he said.

Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia that has North Korean workers, employed in some seven companies, mostly located in the Selantik coal field in Sri Aman Division.

Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem said as far as the ministry is concerned, these workers are categorized as non-resident workers, governed by the Sarawak Labour Ordinance.

He said Sarawak has the “localization committee” to look into these non-resident matters, headed by the State Secretary, while the State Labour Department Director only sits in the committee as one of the members.

Abang Johari added because of the current situation, the state government needed to get clearance from the federal government.

Asked why the state was the only one employing these workers, he said it was because of their special skill, like working in coal mines.

“It must be remembered too when they were brought in, Malaysia has normal diplomatic relationship with North Korea as well,” he said.