KOTA SAMARAHAN: The Government has suspended the recruitment of all foreign workers, including those from Bangladesh, pending a review of the levy and rehiring programme.
The move comes just a day after Malaysia inked a deal with Bangladesh to bring in its workers here over the next three years.
Announcing the decision, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the suspension would enable the Government to reconsider the revised two-tier levy for foreign workers.
“We will also focus on the rehiring programme for foreign workers. We will carry out enforcement to ensure that no more illegal foreign workers enter the country,” he said after meeting army personnel at Kem Muara Tuang here yesterday.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is Home Minister, also urged all employers to hire local workers.
“We hope that Malaysians, especially youths, will heed our call to take the place of foreign workers and be the mainstay of our workforce for the economic development of the country,” he said.
The Government had previously said it would discuss the new rates with stakeholders before making a final decision.
Employers had been unhappy with the increase in the levies to RM2,500 for workers in the manufacturing, construction and service sector and RM1,250 for the plantation and agriculture sector.
Later, during a Chinese New Year gathering, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the rehiring programme was meant for employers to legalise their foreign workers.
“We are registering them provided they have employers, so that we are utilising existing illegal workers,” he said.
“For those who have no documents, their embassies will have to issue them with documents in order for them to be registered as legal workers, otherwise we have to send them back.
“We will focus our attention on those who have overstayed, abused their workers’ visa or do not have the proper documents.
“They will not be allowed to work in Malaysia and enforcement will be stepped up on a large scale.”
He added that the suspension would remain in place until the Government determined the actual manpower requirements of the industries.
On Sarawak’s decision not to recruit Bangladeshi workers for its plantation sector, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the power to take in foreign workers came under the state government, which had control over immigration.
“We leave it to the state government to decide as they know very well the demands of the industry. If the policy is set at federal level, they do not necessarily have to follow our policy,” he said.