WITH over 150,000 registered foreign workers in Penang including some 10,000 of them in Bukit Tengah, an assemblyman has called for greater monitoring of foreign workers in the country.
Bukit Tengah assemblyman Gooi Hsiao Leung said it was vital for the government not to let its guard down and to monitor the foreign workers following the serious outbreak of infections among foreign workers in Singapore.
“We want our lives to resume to some normality by avoiding longer periods of movement control order (MCO) extensions should there be a serious outbreak of infections among the foreign workers.”
He cited Singapore which now has over 8,000 cases of foreign worker infections.
“There should be greater monitoring to protect both foreign workers and the general public alike, ” he said in a statement on Friday.
He said the various government agencies tasked with the job of enforcing the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) guidelines, must step up their game in monitoring companies with foreign workers.
These included the Health Ministry, Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), National Security Council (MKN), Rela, local authorities (PBT) and Federal Labour Department (JTK) or Village Development and Security Committee (JKKP) among others.
Gooi noted that the guidelines by Miti requiring strict compliance of physical distancing of workers being shuttled to work had not been complied with.
“Not forgetting when the workers return back from work, they would freely mingle with other workers staying in overcrowded units across one another in their hostel.
“One of the hostels I visited had 80 workers sharing only one common kitchen to cook their meals, whereas in Singapore, this practice has since been disallowed following the outbreak of infections among foreign workers.
“During my visit to a foreign workers’ hostel in Taman Perwira, I personally witnessed at least seven factory buses picking up their workers for work and there were clearly no signs of physical distancing when the workers were queuing up for their buses.
“These buses were packed with workers sitting in very close proximity, side by side to one another.
“Miti’s standard operating procedures (SOP) and guidelines clearly states that companies with foreign workers which wish to operate in the third phase of the MCO, must get their foreign workers to undergo testing for Covid-19.
“We would like to know how many companies have so far complied with this requirement to test their workers.
“So far, none of the foreign workers I have spoken to during my recent visits to foreign workers’ hostels, have undergone any testing for Covid-19, and as it is, there are already factories resuming operations in Penang, ” he said.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced on April 18 that the government would embark on a large-scale mass testing of foreign workers.
It was reported that over 600 foreigners from Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan had been infected in Malaysia.