Foreign workers are fleeced by cronies and the corrupt

Malaysian government’s failure to formulate a comprehensive foreign labor policy to cater for the industrial needs has transformed into being over-dependent on foreign labor. Government wants the services of foreign workers but don’t want to recognize their contribution. Malaysia’s policy on foreign workers is fraught with UMNO crony recruitment agencies ripping millions. Foreign workers while complimenting the labor needs are slowly turning out to be substitute to local workers. Malaysian manufacturing has become very foreign labor dependent. The county has become the cheap labor manufacturing hub stagnating the local worker’s salary and delayed the much needed automation and upward mobility to high end value chain. Land strapped Singapore is transferring low end production to South Johor Economic Region (SJER).

Instead of formulating a long term comprehensive foreign labor policy, UMNO politicians are busy plotting more schemes to swindle the poor migrant workers. Activist and NGOs have cried and voiced loud and clear that the government’s 6P program to register foreign workers is a failure and scam. These scams took place right under the noose of home ministry. The introduction of bio metric system did not register foreign workers but added additional cost and fear of retribution to these poor foreign workers. Agents and officers from immigration department end up making money out of these foreign workers. In Nepal a sending country Malaysian embassy is collecting fees for an agency that is not physically present for Visa processing. In Katmandu Malaysian home ministry made mandatory for medical centers that conduct health checks for workers to install software developed by Malaysian IT firm, Bestinet Sdn Bhd. These mandatory installations have increased medical inspection costs from Rs1500 to Rs4215 (RM140) per worker, making the total cost including visa at Rs11225 (RM373) as opposed to the previous cost of Rs6525 (RM216).

Even the repatriation of illegal immigrates is monopolized by UMNO cronies and they further rip off these poor foreign workers leaving Malaysian. 6P program monopolized by government officials and UMNO cronies rip off those who want to stay back and also those who are repatriated. Foreign workers are the money making machine for the law enforcement agencies of Malaysia. Anybody can enter Malaysia as long as they have enough money to grease the palms of immigration officers at entry point and law enforcement agencies while living here and again at the exit point.

The enterprising foreign workers rent licenses from UMNO elite to operate stalls in wet and night markets and shops in many towns throughout the Malaysia. Some of the enterprising foreign workers even hire local workers selling furniture for hire purchase competing with local traders. The abundant supply of foreign workers has reduced the employability level and opportunities of local people. Vested interest of the UMNO politicians from recruitment till the repatriation of foreign workers has made Malaysian foreign worker policy chaotic, superficial and incomplete.

It’s long overdue for the government to recognize the contribution of foreign workers and formulate policies that regulate foreign workers requirement. Even Malaysian worker’s rights have eroded and weakened. It’s time to skill Malaysian workers to earn higher wages and move to higher end production and automation. Foreign workers have flooded the labor force and during weekends some Malaysian towns looks like Jakarta or Dhaka. It’s impossible to locate and repatriate these many foreign workers when their visa expires. Does the Malaysian government have any other sinister motive to have allowed millions of legal and illegal foreign workers? In order to reduce the dependency on foreign workers, studies suggest that the problem should be tackled from the root especially to face the presence and entry of illegal workers.

The presence of large number of Africans in Malaysia is mind boggling. They are not here to increase the Malaysian productivity. Many come with student visas but how many are in the colleges and universities? Yet they exist right under the view of immigration. Its better to regulate earlier than latter. A stitch in time saves nine says an adage.

Explore posts in the same categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

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