Magistrate's Court in Butterworth, Penang state, Malaysia. Photo: Google Maps

A 38-year-old factory director was fined 105,000 ringgit (US$25,000) by a Malaysian court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to hiring 21 migrant workers illegally.

The defendant surnamed Mei, director of a plant in Sungai Puyu, Butterworth, Penang state, that produces fried onions, allowed four Indonesian women, 12 Myanmar men and five Bangladeshi men to reside at the plant on August 16, Sin Chew Daily (Malaysia) reported on Thursday.

Mei pleaded guilty to violating Section 55E of the Immigration Act 1959/63, which states that holders of properties should not permit illegal immigrants to enter or remain on the premises. He was subsequently given the option of a 105,000 ringgit fine or one year in prison.

According to Malaysian law, offenders shall be fined no less than 5,000 ringgit for each illegal employee, up to a maximum of 30,000 ringgit, or imprisonment for a term of no more than 12 months, or both.

Separately, 30 illegal workers from Myanmar and Indonesia pleaded guilty to unlawfully entering or overstaying in Malaysia. Apart from one Indonesian female worker whose employer was willing to pay the fine on her behalf, the workers were sentence to jail terms between seven days and four months, Nanyang Siang Pau (Malaysia) reported.