First batch of workers here


PETALING JAYA: The first batch of foreign workers from Indonesia selected for the plantation industry arrived in Malaysia on Wednesday, with another group to come today, says Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan.

He said plantation company Kulim (Malaysia) Bhd will get 42 workers, while Sime Darby Plantation will receive 137 workers.

“After this, the workers will come in non-stop. Employers won’t have to complain again that they don’t get workers,” he told The Star.

When asked how many more workers are expected to arrive, he said there is “a long list” of employers who have made arrangements to bring in foreign workers.

“The plantation industry is getting theirs first, and so would agricultural employers.

“Next, the workers can go for any sector as all employers also can apply,” he said.

With almost every aspect of the foreign worker hiring process sorted out, Saravanan said that Malaysia now has 14 source countries for foreign workers.

“So far all cleared, 14 countries can now bring in workers,” he said, adding that workers from Bangladesh, of which 25 recruitment companies have been recently accredited, are in the final stage of the recruitment process.

“By this week, everything can be settled and the workers can come in,” he said.

Saravanan also said that the previous quarantine requirement for foreign workers would no longer be needed as long as they are fully vaccinated when they arrive here.

The onus would be on hiring companies and the agents appointed to ensure the workers have received their vaccination and booster dose.

“Once their vaccination records are proven, they can start work immediately,” he added.

When contacted, Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) chief executive officer Datuk Nageeb Wahab described the latest development as “positive news” for the plantation industry.

Nageeb, who attended a meeting with Saravanan and Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin on Tuesday, said some 20,000 Indonesians are coming to work in plantations.

While the government gave approval for 32,000 workers to be brought in last year, Nageeb said the arrival of the extra 20,000 workers was to fill the remaining quota prior to the closure of the country’s borders during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

“They (Human Resources Ministry) have also given their undertaking that by the end of June, 32,000 workers’ approvals will be completed.

“With the whole process of identifying foreign workers taking one to two months, we hope that by August, we will get the bulk of this 52,000 workers,” he said.

In September last year, the government approved 32,000 foreign workers for the plantation industry when it faced a severe workforce crunch after most workers returned to their home countries before the pandemic.

According to the ministry, he said that the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS) is now reopened for the plantation industry to apply.

When contacted, Faz Group Sdn Bhd director Datuk Mohamad Fardzli Idrus said there had been changes to the previous requirement for foreign workers to observe quarantine upon arrival.

“We will wait and see. We don’t know what is the latest development.”

Mohamad Fardzli urged the government to come up with a decision soon for all stakeholders.

Faz Group is among the two panels of hotels assisting with the quarantine management of foreign workers under the National Security and Safety for Foreign Workers Recruitment and Quarantine Management (NSSFW) initiative.

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