PETALING JAYA: The Cabinet will most likely reinstate the foreign workers replacement system for all sectors to help resolve the shortage of labour in the country.
Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran (pic) said reinstating the system, which was suspended in 2017, would help employers save time and money in addressing the shortage of workers for their businesses.
Previously, employers could apply for a replacement after applying for a check-out memo from the Immigration Department for foreign workers and ensuring that they have left the country.
Since the system was put on hold in 2017, employers were forced to undergo the normal application process to get their replacement workers.
“This is time consuming and costly so we are suggesting an automatic replacement in cases where workers have left the country for good.
“This is not applicable for cases where the workers have absconded.
“We would like to reinstate the old system because it saves time and cost.
“My view is 50% of the foreign workers’ issues will be settled following the reinstatement (once approved),” Kulasegaran told The Star when contacted yesterday.
He said the Cabinet, in its Wednesday meeting, discussed at length the issue of foreign workers shortage and expected a positive decision on the matter soon.
Other matters discussed include source countries of foreign labour, multi-tier levy system, and ways to enhance the Foreign Workers Integrated Management System (ePPAx), which was introduced in 2017.
Kulasegaran said some issues would be further fine-tuned by the ministry and feedback would be sent to the Cabinet for decision.
He said the government was looking to upgrade the ePPAx to make it more user friendly, adding that employers who faced difficulties could approach the ministry’s district or state level offices for assistance.
“I also have an open day every Tuesday, from 8am to 10am in my Putrajaya office where I and other officials will be there to handle issues,” he said.
Kulasegaran said employers who claim that there were discrepancies or conflicting information on the ePPAx should show proof and come over to the office to discuss their complaints.
“Applications for foreign workers through ePPAx reduces or prevents direct involvement of middlemen and we can largely reduce or even do away with corruption.
“Complaints on delays or the system being complicated doesn’t arise because the system takes care of itself,” he said.
On grouses of new criteria in ePPAx which has made it complicated for employers, Kulasegaran said there was no shortcut to the matter as there were rules and regulations that must be adhered to.
“We are very particular about this because this was one of the main reasons why Malaysia slipped to Tier 2 Watch List. Do you want to go to the third tier and face actions?” he asked.
Malaysia dropped to the Tier 2 Watch List in the 2018 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report by the US State Department.
In 2017 TIP report, Malaysia was upgraded to Tier 2 from the Tier 2 Watch List.