MALAYSIANS might well wonder if they are ever going to see the last of the 200,000 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in their country after the Bangladesh Foreign Minister said last week that there were no concrete plans to take them back. Abdus Samad Azad said his countrymen were 'living happily in Malaysia'. His Malaysian counterpart, Abdullah Badawi, remained impassive beside him, prompting a local journalist to murmur: 'We're too polite.' Just a few days earlier, Mr Badawi had said Malaysia's problem in deporting illegal foreign workers could be overcome if countries were willing to take back citizens who had entered Malaysia illegally. He said he was 'very happy' when the Philippine Foreign Minister, Domingo Siazon, announced his country was willing to take back Filipinos who were working illegally in Malaysia. 'Many countries, however, are still not willing to do so,' Mr Badawi said. 'They say the workers are not their citizens, or that it is too much of a hassle.' Filipinos comprise about one-tenth of the estimated one million illegal foreign workers. There are also at least half a million Indonesians and smaller numbers of Indians, Pakistanis, Burmese and Thais. Increasing numbers of immigrants from China have reportedly entered illegally through Thailand. Malaysia has a further one million foreign workers who have entered the country legally. Burma is among the countries which have shown a reluctance to take back their nationals, with its embassy saying the status of people identified as Burmese would have to be verified. Since most illegal immigrants have either false documents or no papers at all, this is difficult for Malaysia to do. While foreign workers have played an important role in Malaysia's economic growth, their presence has become a growing irritant for many Malaysians. Responding to public complaints, the Government promised a major drive to reduce the number of foreign workers by rounding up illegal immigrants. After a token shipment of about 1,000 Indonesian illegals in a vessel provided by Jakarta, there have been no further reports of mass deportations. But even if Malaysia receives promises from all the countries concerned to take back their nationals, it still has to track down and detain the targeted foreign workers before it can deport them. Measures taken so far to encourage illegal immigrants to give themselves up through offers of amnesty and guarantees they would be allowed to apply for legal re-entry once they were back in their home countries have had limited success, netting only a few thousand workers. Raids on work sites and squatter areas by police and immigration officials have resulted in the arrest of only 2,300 illegal immigrants since January 1.