Posted tagged ‘foreign workers’

Foreign workers are fleeced by cronies and the corrupt

July 26, 2014

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.

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In the 55 years of BN rule Malaysians have become poorer

April 2, 2012

Malaysians are increasing becoming indebted over the years. Generally the debt repayment of 30% (1/3) of household income is acceptable. The Malaysian household debt service ratio was 9.1% in 2006 and rose to 49.0% in 2009 but dropped slightly to 47.8% in 2010. This means that on average almost half (50%) of a household’s income goes to repaying debts.  Thus after paying off debt there is not much left to spend on food, transport, education, and for emergencies. Should any problem arise to the income earner or lose his job, the family will find it hard to make ends meet and loans may be defaulted. Malaysians have become very vulnerable to any slight changes to their income.

 

The ratio of household debt to disposable income is 140.4 % for Malaysia, one of the highest in the world; above that of Singapore at 105.3 %, USA at 123.3 % and Thailand at 52.7% in 2009. This means that the loans taken by each household in Malaysia is on average 1.4 times more than its household income. These figures indicate that Malaysian poor are at higher risk of not being able to service loan obligations. Increasingly more Malaysians are spending using borrowed funds. 34% of Malaysian workers earn below Rm720 which is below poverty level. Why have Malaysians become poorer despite the economic growth in the 80s and 90s and Malaysia being resource rich?

 

  1. Wages in Malaysia grew at the rate of 2.6% per annum for the past 10 years while inflation which is much higher even though the official average inflation rate is 2.77%. The household debt is rising yearly at the rate of 11.1% annually. Therefore, unless there is a rise in productivity, wages, and household incomes, this trend is not sustainable and can end up in a debt bubble like what happened in the U.S. 40% of Malaysian workforce are made of foreigners and their presence here depresses and stagnates wages of low income householders. Malaysia is one the few counties which do not have minimum wages.
  1. Malaysian government has privatized all essential service like toll highways, electricity, water, medical, postal service etc to UMNO cronies thus increasing the cost of service. Collapse of public transportation forced many to purchase cars which forced people take loans. Abandoned housing projects with developers going scot free made many indebted with loan to pay. No public housing policy for the poor. All policies are to enrich the developers and UMNO cronies.
  1. The BN government has hijacked the NEP to enrich the cronies and made the rich richer and poor poorer. Billions spent on failed projects like NFC, PKFZ, Tuna port Batu Maung and grants to built highways. Ttax payer’s money used to save cronies from bankruptcy which are all written off. It is said that during Mahathir’s era itself 100 billion of government money spent for cronies. RMI trillion take out of the country in the last 10 years. No investigation made public. Government spends taxpayer’s money without any accountability, transparency and due diligence. Billions and billions burnt without any effective results. Poor and weak Malaysians have to take care of themselves. Bribery and corruption increases cost of living.

 

  1. Government policies protect the rich employers and victimize the poor workers. Labor policies amended to remove workers rights and job security. The BN government is non consultative, biased against the poor and favors the rich. Unions were weakened and workers bargain power reduced. Racial segregation and cronyism deprived good workers opportunities and rewarded apple polishers.  Illegal migrant workers flooded the country competing with unskilled Malaysian workers. Earnings remain stagnant.

 

  1. Spending beyond their means by people was encouraged and banks made credit easy. People became poorer and banks and MNC/GLCs richer. Nation building and cultivation of positive habits by Malaysians was never the policy and priority of BN government. Bulk of government subsidies goes to Independent power producers, toll concessioners and cronies and not the poor.

 

As of 2011, the household debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 77.6 percent, according to Bank Negara Malaysia. That roughly translates into a household debt of RM662 billion. Malaysians need new thinking and better governance to save Malaysia and its people. It’s Time to change and make a difference for the present and future.

 

Senator S. Ramakrishnan

2/4/2012

 

We need proper study and affirmative action before foreign workers are replaced

January 25, 2010

After allowing millions of foreign workers for so many years suddenly the director general of immigration realised that many of these workers are violating the immigration act. The free inflow of foreign workers has made the local restaurants dependent on them and did not develop alternative means of service and delivery to customers.

The local restaurants, hotels and other service industry will collapse or undergo tremendous hardship if sudden and stringent action are taken straight away. Malaysians don’t deserve this delayed and sloppy action at the time of economic hardship. This will only bring joy to the police and RELA personnel when they go around raiding and intimidating foreign workers who are themselves poor and exploited.

How come the previous director generals of immigration were oblivious of this violation of the immigration act? In fact Immigration and ministry of human resources together approved labour agency all over labour exporting countries to bring in hundreds of thousands of foreign workers.

The immigration department has allowed millions of foreign workers in this country both legally and illegally. In the process they replaced the locals from the construction, plantations, restaurants and hospitality industry. The presence of millions of foreign waiters in local restaurants has depressed the wages and deprecated the working conditions in these industries.

This situation has destroyed the employment opportunities of Malaysians.

The government has abdicated its responsibility on the socio economic problems that will arise from the influx of millions of foreign workers in Malaysia. Therefore there were no plans and policies to train local workers and to develop the services and deliveries of restaurants from less labour intensive to more self service or more automation.

Since many agents were making money the immigration department went on blissful sleepy mode. Malaysia needed foreign workers but it is the government’s responsibility to coordinate and control the flow to the level that does not jeopardise the employment and socio economic situation in the country.

There was no concrete and affirmative action to replace these foreign workers with locals over the period.Foreign workers are becoming indispensable to restaurants and other industries.

Without a proper strategy and remedy, the DG of immigration should not take any action to arrest and deport foreign workers. This will create hardship and economic losses to the restaurants and tourism industry.

The government needs to look at how developed countries managed their labour shortage. There are poor and needy people in Malaysia too looking for job opportunities. Government decision makers must look at the hard facts and reality and come up with creative strategies before taking action.