May 28, 2010

Foreign worker limit affects locals, says Tun Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — The Najib administration’s decision to restrict the entry of foreign workers has also affected job opportunities for Malaysians, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

The former prime minister said the absence of low-skilled foreign workers has impacted the manufacturing industry, resulting in locals losing their jobs.

He said he has been approached by businesses seeking for the restriction to be eased.

“A Japanese corporation has been facing problem because foreign workers are hired to do jobs that do not require skills, [are] lowly paid and do not attract locals,” said Dr Mahathir in a blog post last night.

“Our workers work in the higher level to process the work done by the workers below them. When there are no lower level workers, initial works cannot be done,” he added.

Dr Mahathir said such a scenario would cause businesses to shut.
“When they do this, Malaysians will also lose their source of income. The same problem can be seen in Langkawi, too. Restaurants and duty-free shops do not have workers anymore,” said Dr Mahathir.

“I believe Malaysians are not that cruel to let businesses and local workers to suffer losses just because they don’t like to see foreign workers here,” he said.

Early last year, the government started banning the hiring of foreign workers in the manufacturing and service sectors, in a move to prevent locals from being laid-off.

Malaysia now has approximately 1.9 million foreign workers spread across sectors such as manufacturing (39 per cent), construction (19 per cent), plantation (14 per cent), housemaids (12 per cent), services (10 per cent), and with the rest in agriculture.

The contributing countries by rank are: Indonesia (50.9 per cent), Bangladesh (17.4 per cent), Nepal (9.7 per cent), Myanmar (7.8 per cent), India (6.3 per cent), and the rest from Vietnam.

Last month, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had announced that the government plans to reduce the number of foreign workers to 1.5 million in three years.

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