KUCHING: A first batch of Bangladeshi workers for the plantation industry is expected to be brought into Sarawak this month, according to Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot.
He said the workers would be recruited based on requests from plantation owners, who were required to write in to a committee chaired by the State Secretary.
“After that the committee will give it to us for consideration. When the workers are brought in to KLIA, a representative of the employer will receive them together with officers from my ministry.
“Then they will be flown to Kuching, Miri or Sibu where the employer will also receive them, failing which we will have to ask them to go back. If they are found to be not competent in the work, they will also have to be sent back,” he told reporters yesterday.
On public concerns over the recruitment of the Bangladeshi workers, Riot said the government would ensure that security, health and social aspects were not compromised.
“We will make sure that they are screened for contagious diseases. People with criminal records also will not be brought in,” he said.
Riot had signed a memorandum of understanding with Bangladesh Minister for Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Khandker Mosharraf last month to bring in 12,000 Bangladeshi workers for the state’s plantation sector.
He reiterated that the workers needed to be brought in because of the industry’s workforce requirement.
“In fact, a big plantation of not less than 2,000ha can need 30,000 workers and we are bringing just 12,000, so that is still below the requirement of the industry.
“There is a real need for the industry in Sarawak to employ foreign workers as not many locals are willing to take up work in the plantation industry,” he said.
However, he added that 20% of the jobs in the industry must be given to locals. “We cannot allow 100% of the workforce to be foreign workers,” he said. – By SHARON LING