PETALING JAYA: The choice to hire foreign workers is made by employers, although the government prioritises local workers in principle, says Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar.
Commenting on a recent news portal report about foreign workers from Bangladesh, he said employers would decide the selection of workers and source country based on their suitability to the nature of a particular industry.
“The employment is subject to demand from employers... (and) based on criteria determined by the government.
“There will be no interference from the government on this process. To date, Malaysia has 14 other source countries besides Bangladesh for employers to choose from in employing foreign workers.
“As a trading nation, the government acknowledges the contribution of foreign workers in helping the growth and development of the nation's economy,” he said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 21).
Sivakumar pointed out that there was a misunderstanding of the recruitment process and quota allocation for workers from that country.
As such, he said the ministry wanted to clear this up as it negatively impacted the employment procedures and process.
Sivakumar stressed that the authorities do not tolerate human suffering, with no compromise made regarding workers' rights and welfare.
In the report, migrant rights activist Andy Hall said a worrying number of Bangladeshi workers were left high and dry upon arrival in Malaysia.
Hall was quoted as saying that more than 300,000 Bangladeshis had entered Malaysia in less than two years, with many trapped in "modern slavery" due to debt bondage brought about by excessive recruitment costs.
Hall said Bangladeshi workers paid more than US$6,000 (RM28,140) per person, with recruitment costs paid by other foreign nationals also rising sharply.
He claimed that the issue of Bangladeshi workers being brought in by syndicates and not getting work still needed to be resolved.
According to Bangladeshi news reports, the country recorded its highest monthly labour export in August, with more than 138,600 workers leaving the country, 46,105 of them to Malaysia.