Setting-up isolation centre for entry of foreign workers a right move to ease shortage of workers, says ACCCIM

PETALING JAYA: The Human Resources Ministry’s move in identifying a large capacity isolation centre near the airport to facilitate the entry of foreign workers is a step in the right direction, says the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM).

ACCCIM president Datuk Low Kian Chuan said such a move was a relief to sectors facing worker shortages, especially the plantation sector.

"ACCCIM welcomes Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan’s announcement that the ministry was drawing up the standard operating procedures and identifying an isolation centre near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to facilitate the entry of foreign workers.

"This move will be a relief to the plantation sector, as shortages of workers have affected the harvesting season," he said in a statement on Friday (Sept 17).

On Thursday (Sept 16), Saravanan said in a statement that the ministry had drafted the SOP and identified a foreign workers’ quarantine centre near the KLIA that can accommodate 2,000 employees at a time to facilitate the entry of foreign workers.

He said the move was in tandem with the Cabinet’s earlier decision to grant special approval to bringing in 32,000 foreign workers to ease workers shortage in the plantation sector and also in preparation for the recruitment of foreign workers if there was an urgent need.

Low called on the government to implement a similar arrangement to help ease worker shortages in the manufacturing and construction sectors, subject to the necessary compliance of SOPs to ensure the workers were not infected.

"We have conveyed our concerns in our recent engagement with the Home Minister and Human Resources Minister.

"We are worried that the industries would miss out on the revival in demand if the shortages of foreign workers persist," he said.

Low noted that Malaysia needs a holistic approach to handle and regulate the recruitment process under a transparent end-to-end system to apply and approve the application of foreign workers.

"In the medium-term, the chamber supports the government’s calls for reducing over-dependency on foreign workers, especially the low-skilled as our country moves towards a high-income nation with industries adopting technology and automation.

"The weaning off from foreign workers must not be abrupt and should be done in a gradual manner within a stipulated timeline to ease disruptions to businesses," he said.

ACCCIM, added Low, believed that industries and businesses were committed to working together with the authorities to design a sustainable migrant workers’ recruitment system based on good labour practices, covering minimum standards of housing and amenities as well as fair treatment as stipulated in the law.
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