Lim Guan Eng’s lack of understanding on the shortage of foreign workers

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By M.Vivekananathan Political Analyst

MANY may be left confused by the political mud-slinging taking over recently, but one thing seems clear–Saravanan has come out a winner in public perception.

The Bagan MP, Lim Guan Eng has been repeatedly accusing the Human Resources Minister Datuk M.Saravanan of failing to resolve Malaysia’s labour shortage.

But in actual fact, the nation’s foreign workers system was crippled by Pakatan Harapan especially DAP leaders when they held federal powers, leading to the current manpower shortages experienced today.

Menteri Sumber Manusia Datuk Seri M. Saravanan

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, PH had imposed a moratorium on intake of foreign workers from Bangladesh in 2019 and refused to renew Memorandum of Understanding with other source countries.

As of now, as we are fully aware, employers have been advised to speed up on their end in the recruitment of foreign workers as there are still delays by employers even though approvals have been granted by the government.

The matter was the responsibility of the employers as the government only played a role in resolving and giving permission to a quota of 400,000 to employers.

After getting the approval for the foreign worker quota from the HR Ministry and paying the foreign worker levy at the Malaysian Immigration Department, then only will the employers be able to decide on the origin of the workers they wish to hire.

The HR Ministry does not decide the country the foreign worker to be recruited from, as there are approximately 14 source countries. The HR Ministry only gives the approval and the decision is upon employers.

Lim Guan Eng’s lack of understanding of the foreign workers quota application shows that he is confused and goes further to confuse others. Several days ago, Lim Guan Eng, the MP for Bagan criticized Human Resource

Minister Datuk Seri M.Saravanan in failing to handle the worker shortage. The Ministry of Human Resources has been expediting foreign worker approvals through transparent and effective mechanisms. The foreign worker quota given to employers is based on the employment sector which have been allowed to hire foreign workers.

The Human Resource Ministry does not decide the country of the foreign worker to be recruited from, as there are approximately 14 source countries. The HR Ministry only gives the approval and the decision was upon employers.

Above that, the Human Resources Ministry does not entertain requests for a special quota for the recruitment of foreign workers based on supporting letters from any party. Only applications that followed the prescribed online procedures would be entertained.

The Minister recently said, overdependence on a small number of source countries is the cause for delays in the entry of foreign labour into the country.

The Human Resources Minister has further added that Malaysian employers’ overreliance on foreign labour from only a few source countries may not only lower the competitiveness of the labour market but also possibly cause shortages in labour supply in those few countries.

The other problem is that, employers prefer to recruit only Indonesians and Bangladeshis because of issues of language, religion.

As such, the recruitment of labour from within these two countries has started to dry up which causes a labour shortage in those countries as demand exceeds supply.

That as the reason why, the HR Ministry recommends employers to employ labour from other source countries as there are 13 approved source countries currently.

The ministry’s only role is the giving of special approval for the recruitment of labour to source countries which the Human Resource ministry has done.

The Human Resources Ministry had previously allowed the hiring of foreign workers for three industries – construction, manufacturing and service – from all 15 source countries to help alleviate the ongoing labour shortage crisis.

On Wednesday (Sept 21), the Cabinet approved the recruitment of 10,000 Sri Lankan workers into Malaysia in an effort to get employers to hire more labour workers from other source countries.

Lim Guan Eng is harping on the issue of foreign labour shortages but the employers had not raised much grievances with the ministry.

The ministry’s role is to approve quots for foreign workers and to look after their welfare when they enter the country, but anything in between does not fall under the Ministry of Minister’s jurisdiction.

The minister has set October 5 for Lim Guang Eng to provide evidence that the former had failed to address the country’s migrant labour shortage.

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