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Tuesday November 13, 2007

Tough new Act to cut dependence on foreign workers

KUALA LUMPUR: Tougher measures are expected to be introduced on employers in a move to reduce dependency on foreign workers and curb the influx of illegal immigrants. 

They are likely to include stringent requirements on the hiring of foreign workers and salary payment as well as the setting up of a mechanism to deal with complaints. 

These measures will be included in a new Act, which the Government is drafting to curb the influx of foreign workers and illegal immigrants. 

Deputy Home Affairs Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho said the move was aimed at tightening hiring procedures and to enable the authorities to check on them. 

“The Government views with great concern the huge number of foreign workers in the country. It has become a serious problem as all kinds of social and security problems are cropping up. 

“The proposed Act will allow the Government to monitor the workers and control their behaviour more effectively so that they won't create problems for the country or society,” he said.  

Last week, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called on Malaysians to stop their dependency on foreign workers, adding that most of the foreign workers were unskilled and did not contribute to nation-building. 

Speaking at the Umno general assembly last Friday, he described the hiring of foreign workers in large numbers as an “addiction” among Malaysian employers that must be stopped. 

According to the Auditor-General's Report for 2006, there were 1.87 million foreign workers as of December last year.  

It is estimated that there are as many illegal foreign workers as legal ones in the country, bringing the total to more than three million. 

Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow said it was high time to create a mechanism to hold employers accountable when their foreign employees changed jobs or were retrenched.  

“Currently, they are everywhere and the large number of them in certain housing schemes are creating uneasiness among the locals,” he said.  

Malaysian Association of Foreign Housemaids Agencies vice-president Jeffrey Foo said the Government must have the will to enforce the Act. 

“The present policies are enough to curb problems but there are employers who are still harbouring illegals,'' he said. 


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