Foreign workers recruitment start here

CAN we handle a foreign workers’ day off in Malaysia? I am not too sure — I foresee chaos, confusion and disarray as families, businesses and the government try to figure out where things are and how they work. And, of course, all the mamak restaurants will be closed for the day! Last week in the United States, there was a nationwide, “Day Without Immigrants” protests, aimed at showcasing their contributions to the country. People who see themselves as immigrants, legal or illegal, took the day off from work and school. It followed President Donald Trump’s seemingly anti-immigrant stance, which included stopping legal immigration, as well as the likelihood of deporting those who entered the country illegally. Here in Malaysia, depending on whom one were to ask, there could be up to four million migrant workforce, legal or undocumented. Some of us think that it is something to be tolerated, while others suggest that such a large number is not good for our wellbeing and even our safety. The illegals should be deported, and the legal one reduced. Yet, imagine if all of them decided to take a day off, all at the same time.

Clearly, a lot of things would be dirtier, almost instantly. We have practically sub-contracted out the nation’s cleaning duties, either at the malls, airports, offices, schools and most public places, to foreigners. Thus, by noon, on that fateful day, many trash cans and waste bins would fill up, public toilets would begin to stink and the floors dirty. In most local councils, household refuse could just pile up for a day or two more as those responsible try to juggle the now depleted workforce. At the same time, too, some homes would not be throwing out anything, for their domestic help would not be working. Kitchens would smell, laundry and dishes piled up, floors not cleaned and beds unmade. Children would wake up not knowing where their socks are as their parents would be none the wiser. Half the shops in the malls would be closed, while the rest operating at reduced capacity. Owners of cafes and restaurants suddenly need to figure out how to do what in the kitchen, and reduce their menu to fried eggs and canned food, presumably, and to use only disposable utensils. Many establishments powered by foreign workers, such as supermarkets in my area, would be closed, or be operating at less than 30 per cent of their capacity. From the shelf stackers, to the backroom staff to the cashiers, all are foreigners.

At the neighbourhood wet market, oh well, we might just as well not go. The mamak restaurants and banana leaf outlets, which hire almost 100 per cent foreigners, would be closed, and our lives would be poorer for that. Where could we go? There would also be less people available to man guard posts, and provide security for our offices, malls, residential areas and buildings. Almost all construction would stop at housing and commercial projects, from household renovations to our major infrastructure works. Our industrial production index would fall as many factories would close down, so would many providers in the services sector. Our gross domestic product would see a blip, that’s for sure. Vegetables in Cameron Highlands would not be harvested for the day, and our oil palm bunches would be lying by the roadsides uncollected, and the mills would be down for the day. Our ports would slow down, and barber shops would serve fewer clients. By the way, there is another type of foreign workers, the ones whom we gloriously call expatriates. Presumably, if they are in the spirit, they would sit out the day, too. So many multinationals will not have chief executives, country and regional heads. Some of our government-linked companies would also not have leaders for a day. Some schools would have fewer teachers and administrators. But, I do believe we could survive without them for a while longer. Foreign workers not only do the dirty, dangerous and boring jobs, but more importantly, they allow us to pursue other things that are perhaps more rewarding. We get the better end of this deal, cheaper workforce and better quality of life. Yet, foreign labour is an addiction. Right now, we get our fix via citizens from poorer countries looking for a better life. But sooner or later, they might no longer come here because their home countries’ economy have improved, or we could just be priced out of the labour market. Then, we could see upheavals that last more than a day, and we should then know, who needs whom more.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ZAINUL ARIFIN, a former NSTP group managing editor, is now a social media observer.

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SHAH ALAM: Illegal foreign workers with valid employers can come forward to register and legalise their employment under the Immigration Department\'s E-kad (enforcement card) programme.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali (pic) said the government made the decision to legalise the employment of foreign workers following high demands from several sectors.

\"The registration will be available from Feb 15 at all of our offices in the peninsula and state Immigration departments,\" he told a press conference after visiting its Shah Alam headquarters at Kompleks PKNS Shah Alam, on Tuesday.

Registration for the E-kad will be free and it will be valid for a period of one year.

Only five sectors have been approved for the programme, namely, the plantation, agriculture, industrial, construction and services, said Mustafar.

He added that employers can apply for the E-kad between the period of Feb 15 until June 30.

\"There will be no extension beyond June 30 and we are firm on this.

\"During the one-year period, employers are adviced to apply for their worker\'s passport and permits from their respective embassies,\" he said.

He also warned employers not to apply to register their foreign workers through any middlemen or agents.

\"The employers have to register their foreign workers with the necessary documentations and it will take two days to process,\" he said.
He estimated that between 400,000 to 600,000 foreign workers will turn up to register under the programme.

PETALING JAYA: Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed has shot down suggestions by some employers that the age limit in the enforcement-card registration of foreign workers be raised from 45 to 55.

He said that if the Government decided to increase the age limit, it would be open to abuse.

“We are concerned that some will abuse it because they will become eligible to apply for PR (permanent residence) status if they stay more than 10 years.

“That is why we put the limit at 45,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Nur Jazlan was responding to the suggestion made by a number of restaurant owners.

Employers have to register their foreign workers under the Immigration Department’s E-kad programme, starting Feb 15.

The registration can be made at any Immigration Department office in the peninsula.

Equipped with a biometric security system, E-kad registration will be free and valid for a year.

Nur Jazlan also said that employers should focus on hiring locals and have a younger workforce to improve productivity.

“Employing foreign workers also deprives our local people of job opportunities.

“And now they want to hire older foreign workers.

“They need to look at the bigger picture,” he said.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said the issue was a matter for the policy makers.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the introduction of the E-kad programme was a positive move and would minimise the problem of lost passports and travel documents.

“The E-kad reader should be made available to all enforcement agencies so that cases of foreign workers being detained for not having the original documents on their person will not recur,” he said.

SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang said he received positive feedback from many employers.

He hoped that the programme would be implemented smoothly.

“Employers still need to prepare all the documents but those who have a history of running away from employers will not be eligible for registration under the programme.

“We hope Immigration can simplify the registration process. We urge employers to go directly to the department, and not go through agents,” he said.


 MAICCI wants Govt to review foreign worker policy

by hanis zainal

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) wants the Government to review the policy on foreign workers.

Its president Tan Sri K. Kenneth Eswaran (pic) said the current policy has made it difficult for employers to hire workers qualified for jobs they want filled.

Referring to the freeze on the hiring of foreign workers in certain industries, he said it has caused a shortage for many businesses.

“Businesses such as Indian restaurants, barbers, and news vendors are all facing the same problem.

“Take a restaurant, for example, the cooks can’t come from Bangladesh or Indonesia.

“You cannot get the source country wrong for these businesses,” he said.

Speaking to the press after MAICCI’s 10th management council meeting, Eswaran said the association wants a long-term solution to the issue of foreign workers.

MAICCI secretary-general Datuk A.T. Kumararajah said the association is asking for the Government to allow employers to hire foreign workers according to their needs.

“We want a policy of workers on demand and needs basis,” said Kumararajah, adding that such a policy will never cause an influx of foreign workers because employers do not hire more workers than they need.

“For foreign workers, employers usually won’t bring in more workers than they need. There is a cost to bringing in foreign workers, so why would they bring in more than they need?” he said.

He said that the illegal workers rehiring programme is also not working well for many employers.

“The process should be simple but right now it is costly and difficult,” he said, citing the high processing fees that employers have to pay to register a worker under the rehiring scheme.

MAICCI council member Datin Maheswary Rasamy said the high cost involved in the process is a burden to many employers.

“We have to pay more than RM1,000 (per worker) upfront to MyEG but there is no guarantee that the worker will be approved.

“It’s not a fair deal. If the worker is rejected we lose the worker and money,” said Maheswary.

She said employers do not mind paying a registration fee, but they want the fee to be lowered.

She also said that there is no need for MyEg to take a high processing fee.

“If we pay the Government, it’s fair enough, but MyEg is a private company,” she said, adding that the fee should be refundable.
At present, the rehiring programme is handled by MyEg, Bukit Megah Sdn Bhd and International Marketing and Net Resources Bhd and the fee for the registration of workers start at RM1,800 per worker.