The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) welcomes Minister of Human Resources, YB Datuk Seri Saravanan Murugan’s remarks that the Ministry of Human Resources is drawing up the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), including identify a 2,000 persons capacity COVID-19 isolation center nears the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to facilitate the bringing in of foreign workers. This is in tandem with the Cabinet’s earlier decision to grant a special approval for bringing in 32,000 foreign workers to ease the situation of workers shortage in the plantation sector.
This measure will provide a relief to the plantation sector, including palm oil industry, which had suffered financial and revenue losses as the shortages of workers have restrained peak harvesting season.
President of ACCCIM, Dato’ Low Kian Chuan hopes that the Government can consider to implement a similar arrangement to help ease the shortages of workers in the manufacturing and construction sectors, subject to the necessary compliance of SOP to ensure that the brought in workers are not exposed to the COVID-19.
Dato’ Low said that we have conveyed our concerns about the workers shortages in our recent engagement with YB Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Human Resources. We are worried that the industries would miss out on the ride of a stronger revival in demand if the shortages of foreign manpower persist.
Malaysia needs a holistic approach to handle and regulate the recruitment process under a transparent end-to-end system to apply and approve the application of foreign workers. In the medium-term, the chamber supports the Government’s calls for reducing over-dependency on foreign workers, especially the low-skilled as our country moves towards a high-income nation with the industries adopting technology and automation. The weaning off from foreign workers must not be abruptly and carried out in a gradual manner within a stipulated timeline to ease disruptions to businesses.
ACCCIM believes that industries and businesses are committed to work together with the authorities to design a sustainable migrant workers recruitment system based on good labor practices covering minimum standards of housing and amenities as well as fair treatment as stipulated under the Employees’ Minimum Standards of Housing, Accommodations and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446).
We also welcome the Government’s pledge to take steps to eliminate forced labor after the country was downgraded by the US to the worst level (Tier 3) for failing to meet minimal standards for the elimination of trafficking and was not making significant efforts to do. Failure to improve the rating would put our country’s image and Malaysian companies’ reputation at risk.