LAST June, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan announced a freeze on new intakes of foreign workers till the end of the year. The freeze was intended to reduce the number of foreign workers in our country and give locals priority in securing employment.
I hope the government will extend the freeze for one to two years after the end of this
Covid-19 pandemic. The recent recalibration programme for undocumented foreign workers should do enough to solve manpower shortages in the plantation, agriculture, manufacturing and construction sectors.
The number of undocumented foreign workers in the country could be the same or twice that of their documented counterparts. The lucrative labour migration and human trafficking trade might be the source of this mess. If many of these undocumented workers choose to stay and work legally, and recruiting agents continue to bring in more from abroad, the number of foreign workers in Malaysia could balloon.
The large presence of foreign workers in this country will make it difficult for locals, especially youths, to get employed.
These days, foreign workers are not just employed in the 3D sector but also in areas that can be filled by locals. Even pharmacies are seen to be employing foreigners as storekeepers.
Malaysians who were retrenched and are still unable to find jobs due to the economic chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic should be prioritised. Jobs at malls, fast food outlets, convenience stores and hotels should be reserved for Malaysians only. Employers should consider hiring retirees and students on a part-time basis for certain jobs.
In developed countries, automatic manufacturing and packaging lines are taking over human jobs, but here in Malaysia we are still stuck in the 90s era because of the availability of cheap low-skilled foreign labour. The government must find ways to reduce our dependence on foreign labour, which has been going on for too long, so that we can move forward and become a high income nation.
CONCERNED CITIZEN , Kuala Lumpur
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