GEORGE TOWN: Educating companies on the dos and don’ts of treating foreign workers could help improve Malaysia’s ranking in the US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, says Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association president Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai.
Commenting on the fact that Malaysia had been placed on the lowest tier for the second year in a row, Wong said different industries handled issues in a different manner, but it was clear that Malaysia had to comply with the requirements set in the report.
“No indebtedness to the company, no obligations imposed on the foreign workers, not withholding their passports, and paying all the required fees before they come into the country so that there is no debt – these are some of the requirements.
“In the electronics industry, we have a much higher standard – we comply with what has been set. But there are other industries that are still not complying with the rules even when it comes to accommodation.
“I believe the other industries are catching up and looking for solutions, but if they are not, I am sure they will be sanctioned,” said Wong when met yesterday.
“Among the ways to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking is to educate companies on issues like withholding the passports of their foreign workers.
“In fact, some companies do not want to hold their workers’ passports. They say it is the workers who insist that their passports are kept by their employers so that they will not be misplaced.
“When they ask us, we keep it for them. By helping them keep it, even if there is paperwork showing that they authorised the company to keep their passports, it is still not acceptable,” he added.
Companies must make their foreign workers take responsibility for their own passports, Wong stressed.
“Every company has to implement and execute its plans to improve how foreign workers are treated,” he said.