IT IS better for Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan to suspend himself and his officials for two weeks instead of imposing unnecessary hardship on businesses by repeating the previous two-week suspension for the recruitment application of migrant workers from Aug 15 to Aug 31.
The previous two-week suspension was from June 1 to June 15.
The latest unilateral two-week suspension by the human resources ministry does not make any sense, especially when the recruitment of migrant workers from Indonesia was recently restored and normalised on Aug 1.
Saravanan’s failure to deliver on his promise to stop Malaysia’s Maid Online System(MOS) in the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Indonesia, caused Indonesia to abruptly freeze all Indonesian workers coming to Malaysia and label Malaysia as a disgrace.
The minister did not respond to the insult from Indonesia but ate humble pie to comply with Indonesia’s requirements in the MOU to allow Indonesian workers to return to Malaysia.
Barely two weeks after the Indonesian worker situation was normalised on Aug 1, the recruitment of all migrant workers is now inexplicably suspended for two weeks beginning Aug 15.
This would hinder efforts by all industries to overcome the 1.2 mil worker shortage and inflicted losses of RM33.5 bil to the plantation sector, glove and auto spare parts industry alone.
Other industries will also record losses of tens of billions of ringgit.
“No reason not to maintain status quo”
There is no reason why the current application procedure and conditions should not be maintained to expeditiously overcome the severe labour shortages.
The suspended procedure includes the decentralisation of the interview process via the One Stop Centre (OSC) at the state labour offices to allow the industry a seamless process of foreign worker application.
According to the Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (PRESMA), 1,500 Indian-Muslim restaurants, popularly known as mamak restaurants, are expected to close nationwide following the lack of foreign workers and difficulty in sourcing local workers.
PRESMA claims that the lack of foreign workers has already caused 3,000 restaurant operators out of 12,000 registered association members to be closed since the COVID-19 pandemic started more than two years ago.
The mamak restaurant industry needs at least 30,000 more workers to fill vacancies across the country.
Many industries suffer the same predicament as the mamak restaurants. The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), for instance, has opposed the two-week suspension of the foreign worker application procedure.
FMM claimed that the suspension would disrupt the current economic recovery by derailing the manpower planning of the industry, which will lead to their inability to fulfil projects and orders.
Saravanan should wake up and do his job by allowing applications for the recruitment of migrant workers to continue.
He should also focus on cutting the red tape surrounding the many applications pending processing and approval, which has the industry seeking an efficient processing system for a quick turnaround on the applications. — Aug 14, 2022
Lim Guan Eng is DAP national chairman, Bagan MP and a former finance minister.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: The Star