KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia says it will go slow on signing an MoU with other countries on foreign labour until the issue involving illegal foreign workers is resolved.
Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the country was currently discussing the issue of illegal migrant labour with Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam.
He said the MoU to be signed with them must touch upon the enforcement of illegal foreign workers who overstayed in Malaysia.
“In Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, when they sign the MoU they have the condition that the government of source countries have to take stern action to take back their workers who have overstayed and those who are undocumented.
“What we are saying now is very simple – if you send workers to my country, you must send the best workers, you must send disciplined people,” he told reporters after the 25th Asean Labour Ministers Meeting here yesterday.
He said the need to tackle the illegal immigrant issue was especially dire with Malaysia having been downgraded to the Tier 2 Watchlist on US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report for 2018.
“If we just go one more (tier) down, we would face sanctions, which will include foreign countries not investing in this country,” he said.
The ministry would also be making public a report on labour-related issues in the country by early next year, he said, adding that he had given instructions for the report to be completed by January.
The report is expected to encompass 38 labour-related issues.
Kulasegaran also said amendments to the Employment Act 1955 were expected to be tabled next March.
“We’ve already had discussions with stakeholders and NGOs. Come March, we should have a massive amendment,” he said.