PUTRAJAYA: The Government has decided to absorb some 40,000 refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) into the foreign labour workforce.
Home Affairs Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid said the move was to reduce the number of foreign workers brought into Malaysia to ease the labour shortage.
“Once the Rohingyas and Chins from Myanmar, Acehnese and Filipinos are recognised as foreign workers, they can contribute to the economy of the country,” Azmi told reporters after the Cabinet committee on foreign workers met yesterday.
UNCHR representative to Malaysia Dr Volker Turk had recently asked Malaysia to allow these refugees to work here to help alleviate the shortage of foreign workers.
Turk had said that there were 20,000 refugees from Aceh, 10,000 Rohingyas and 10,000 ethnic minorities from Myanmar and other countries.
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia had a total of 1,615,863 foreign workers as of May 31.
Of the figure, workers from Indonesia made up 69%, followed by Nepal (10.19%), India (6.19%) and Vietnam (4.56%).
Thirty-one per cent worked in manufacturing, 26% in plantation, while 18% worked as maids and the rest in the construction and services sectors.
Asked if there were sufficient foreign workers, Najib said it would be difficult to assess the exact number required as it depended on the demand from employers.
“I expect there will be some increase over the next few months. However, in some sectors like plantation, demand is quite stable.”
Najib also said the National Economic Action Council had been directed to study the long-term effects relying on foreign workers to the country’s economy.