PETALING JAYA: The Government should not sideline the law and the legal hiring process by enabling 10,000 Yemeni citizens holding social visit passes to work in the country, says the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).
Its president Datuk Abdul Halim Mansor said using humanitarian grounds to justify allowing Yemenis to work here without going through the normal hiring process was wrong and said that the MTUC would not support the Government on this.
"Sympathy and humanity of the Malaysian Government cannot be taken advantage of by proposing that the government agrees with methods that go against the rules.
"If we agree to hire 10,000 Yemenis – as recently stated by the Yemen Ambassador to Malaysia – this will turn Malaysia into the hub country of foreign refugee labour," said Abdul Halim in a statement on Sunday (Sept 15).
This was in response to Yemen's Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Adel Mohamed Ali Ba Hamid saying that 10,000 Yemeni citizens holding social visit passes in Malaysia would be able to work under certain requirements which would be finalised soon.
Speaking in an interview with Bernama, he said this was part of programmes held in collaboration with Malaysia to render humanitarian assistance to Yemenis, whose country is ravaged by war.
"It's not implemented yet but it has been agreed by the Home Ministry. Our request is to allow them to work in Yemeni establishments such as Yemeni tourism agencies, schools, groceries and restaurants," Adel Mohamed was quoted as saying.
The envoy had also said that the Malaysian Government had allowed for visa-on-arrival extensions for Yemenis from 90 days to one year under certain conditions.
However, Abdul Halim said that Malaysia had its own processes and methods in hiring foreign labour, which is overseen by the Human Resources Ministry, and the existing application and recruitment process of foreign workers had been approved by the Government with the view to prioritise the local workforce.
He also said that the Government must be strict over the issue of foreign worker recruitment and that those not allowed to work include graduated foreign students, social visit pass holders and refugees.
"All processes must follow the International Labour Organisation (ILO) procedure in order to not discriminate foreign workers.
"International students must return because the study permit cannot be changed to the employment permit and the social visit pass holders must be sent home because they will go against the Immigration Act (if they work).
"The Government does not need to cooperate on the basis of humanity which can endanger the nation," said Abdul Halim, who also voiced concerns over the validity of the status of the 10,000 Yemenis.
He also warned the Government against flouting its own laws, saying that the recruitment of foreign workers without following procedures went against Malaysia's anti-human trafficking laws.
The Government's vision to provide more employment opportunities to Malaysians, especially the youth, would also be stunted by the move to allow 10,000 Yemenis holding social visit passes to work here.
"The Government must take into account the people's concern over the foreign labour workforce, which is now two million strong, or of the local workforce, which stands at 6.7 million," he said.
Abdul Halim suggested using the local workforce in all sectors to be made compulsory, saying that companies should adopt a 10:1 ratio, whereby for every 10 locals hired, one foreign worker can be employed.