Malaysia lifts curbs on hiring foreign workers in more sectors

Kaula Lumpur, Jan 17 (IANS) Citing critical need for manpower and economic progress following dismal reception from locals, the Malaysian government has withdrawn curbs on hiring foreign workers for two industries on Tuesday, a newspaper here reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that Putrajaya city has ended the moratorium and will now allow foreign workers in the mining and services sectors, and provide “more leeway” for those in the agriculture sector, reported Malay Mail Online newspaper.

At 2.14 million, the number of documented foreign workers from at least 13 countries in 2015 exceeded the 1.99 million Indian Malaysians — the country’s third largest ethnic group after the Malays and Chinese Malaysians.

Among the foreign workers, Indonesians were 835,965 or 39.2 per cent of the 2.14 million documented workers, followed by 502,596 Nepalese (23.5 per cent) and 282,437 Bangladeshis (13.2 per cent).

The government agreed with the Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry to provide more leeway for foreign workers intake for the agricultural sub-sector of chicken farming, Hamidi said in an official statement.

The committee also allowed the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to hire foreign workers, on an interim basis until 2020, for the mining and quarrying sectors.

Hamidi said the Transport Ministry’s also would have foreign workers fill the void of manpower in the services sector, such as cargo operations at ports.

Hamidi announced that the interim hiring period for foreign workers in the tourism sector will be extended until 2020.

In February last year, the Cabinet Committee announced the blanket freeze but in May agreed to allow certain sectors — like manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and its sub-sectors such as vegetable, fruit and flower planting — to continue hiring foreign workers.