Sime Darby Plantation renews ex-inmates' job placement deal with Prisons Dept

MUALLIM: Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP) is providing parolees and former detainees employment and on-the-job training to help them reintegrate into society.

SDP group managing director Datuk Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha (pic) said the company is working with the Prisons Department on the Prisoners' Release on Licence (OBB) programme.

He said parolees and former inmates often find it difficult to rejoin the community after serving their sentences because of the stigma attached to their criminal past.

“As a result, they are at a risk of sliding back into a life of crime.

“The company aspires to help them turn over a new leaf and build a better future for themselves through this collaboration.

“Sime Darby Plantation is proud to support this initiative to give people another chance to rebuild their lives,” he said on Friday (Dec 8) during the launch of the District Parole Station here.

SDP and the department also signed a memorandum of agreement on the collaboration.

Mohamad Helmy said equipping the parolees and former detainees with skills as well as potential references was meant to help them rejoin society as productive members.

“This programme can instil a sense of confidence and belief that they can lead a better life,” he said.

An individual's self-motivation was, however, crucial for success, he added.

“For this reason, we have made it a critical prerequisite for all participants to join the programme on a voluntary basis.

“Participants at SDP’s oil palm estate will be chosen through a stringent screening process by both the company and the department.

“The participants will perform general work in the company’s operations such as field upkeep, weeding and manuring, and at the same time have the opportunity to gain new skills,” he added.

Mohamad Helmy said the option to mutually extend employment may be given by the company, subject to criteria such as work performance, and the level of skills acquired during the programme.

He said under the agreement, the company would provide training in basic plantation management, as well as automation and machinery.

This was in line with the company’s focus on mechanising, automating and digitalising its plantation operations, he added.

He said the company is targeting a 100% local workforce for non-harvesting work in its Malaysian operations by 2027, and this collaboration fits with its aspiration to see more local worker involvement in the sector.

The collaboration is part of the Corporate Smart Internship (CSI) programme, launched by the government in 2016.

SDP began collaborating with the department under the programme in 2019, and has recruited a total of 651 parolees before concluding the collaboration in 2021.

Out of a total of 129 participants the company absorbed as permanent employees, 33 remain employees today.

In renewing its collaboration with the department under the new agreement, SDP would be offering 235 more work placements in its oil palm estates.

The participants will be paid a minimum wage as stipulated under the law, and also receive on-the-job training as well as the same employment benefits as the company’s current workers.

Some of the benefits include free housing, subsidised electricity, free potable water of up to 132.5 litres (35 gallons) per day, as well as work shifts in accordance with the Employment Act 1955, and optional paid overtime.

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