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“Foreign worker’s policy is marred with inconsistent flip flops” – former Senator Ramakrishnan

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RamakrishnanKuala Lumpur – Former Senator and one of DAP’s leaders, S.Ramakrishnan has slammed the government policy of bringing 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers into the country.

“The Malaysian government’s attempt to bring another 1.5 million unskilled Bangladeshi workers has riled up many sections of Malaysians into disbelieve and disapproval. In November 2014, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot had revealed that there were some 6.7 million foreign workers in Malaysia. Out of that number, only 2.1 million possessed valid work permits and were registered with the Immigration Department. After the influx of 1.5 million the total unskilled foreign workers will be 8.2 million for a population of 30 million. On one hand to reduce the intake of foreign workers the government wants to increase levy to RM2600 per workers to be paid by employer. On the other hand Datuk Zaid Hamidi announces that 1.5 million Bangladesh workers are to be brought in stages. Malaysia has no consistent long term policy in managing foreign workers” Ramakrishnan said in a press statement.

“Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan was quoted as saying that between January and September 2014, foreign workers remitted about RM23.07 billion out of Malaysia through some 113 million transactions. It said a government study has found that foreign workers remit about 80 percent of their salaries back to their home country for their family’s expenses. To reduce these remittances government is planning EPF, SOCSO and other deductions so that a part of their earnings held back. Foreign workers are a serious social, economic and security issue that needs an impact study. It is surprising that government did not conduct impact or cost benefit study on such a serious matter. 6Ps and 3Ps efforts to convert illegal foreign workers into legal workers only ended up with extra cost to these foreign workers and nothing got solved” Ramakrishnan commented further.

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MDG--Foreign-workers-in-M-007In his statement Ramakrishnan further said as follows:

“Foreign workers are not only working in construction, plantation and approved sector but also have become wet market vendors, multi-level marketing, petty traders, furniture traders, cloth merchants, grass cutters, barbers, taxi drivers and even recruiting agents. They are taking away jobs and businesses that are traditionally done by Malaysians. These guys can undercut prices of Malaysian traders. Selayang wholesale market is practically controlled by foreigners. Of local enforcement agencies close one eye or may collude with these foreigners”

“Under the TPPA labor chapter, foreign workers can form unions and become office bearers. Since they are the majority in factories and plantations the future labor union leaders will be foreign workers. Thereafter they will lead and negotiate for wages and working conditions for Malaysian workers. Foreign workers may also become the national union leaders dealing with Malaysian government and employers. Foreign workers are also reported underpaid and overworked. Reports of foreign worker exploitation and human trafficking can blacklist Malaysia by international human rights agencies. Malaysia have to develop proper and consistent policies in foreign workers recruitment.”

“The over dependence on foreign workers have made employers addicted to cheap foreign workers and these have postponed industries’ upward mobility to higher value added supply chain and automation. These developments have suppressed wages and upskilling effort for Malaysians. We have the highest ratio of illegal foreign workers to workforce. Due to the availability of foreign workers, especially those who are unskilled and willing to work for low wages, more highly skilled local workers become jobless. Besides disadvantaged local workers have accept low wages to secure employment. The need for foreign workers are exploited to benefit UMNO and its cronies. Many groups make money while bring them in, keeping them here and sending them back. These short sided selfish actions of politicians and enforcement agencies are stumbling blocks for a consistent long term policy.”