Ministries to meet on foreign worker freeze that hit three subsectors hard

KUALA LUMPUR: A meeting will be held involving several ministries to resolve issues over the freeze on foreign worker recruitment in three subsectors, says V. Sivakumar.

"I will be meeting the Home Minister and Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister on Thursday (March 23) so that we can come to a decision in the soonest time possible," the Human Resources Minister said when wrapping up his ministerial replies on Budget 2023 at the committee stage in Parliament on Wednesday (March 22).

He was responding to calls by M Kulasegaran (PH-Ipoh Barat) on the government not to "torture" Indian businesses that are suffering due to the freeze.

Kulasegaran, a former human resources minister, called for the order to be rescinded as many Indian barbers, goldsmiths and textile shops were affected.

The freeze affects three subsectors in which the Indian community has extensive interests.

ALSO READ: Kula to govt: Don't torture Indian business operators in three subsectors, lift freeze on foreign workers

The order, effective March 15, applied to textile merchants, goldsmiths and barbershops, many of which say they are now facing closure due to what they call an “unfair” ruling.

An Immigration Department circular sighted by The Star states that the last date to extend the temporary work passes was March 15, although the passes have not reached their maximum validity period of 13 years.

Workers whose permits ended before March 15 can only get them renewed for a year, after which they have to be repatriated.

Meanwhile, Sivakumar said he was aware of the issue and had raised the matter with the ministers concerned.

"The decision should be reconsidered as the number of workers affected is not that large.

"There are about 15,000 workers in these subsectors," he added.

The freeze on foreign worker recruitment in those subsectors was put in place in 2009 but lifted when Pakatan Harapan took over the administration in 2018.

Last week, Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry president N Gobalakrishnan was reported to have said that about 10,000 Indian businesses from these sectors could be forced to close as permits were being terminated in stages.

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