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22 Januari 2009

CABINET PUTS A STOP TO NEW INTAKE IN MANUFACTURING AND SERVICES SECTORS

The Star
By A. LETCHUMANAN and MAZWIN NIK ANIS
22/1/2009


KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has decided to freeze the intake of foreign workers for the manufacturing and services sector, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said.
He said the existing foreign workers in the two sectors would be allowed to work until their permits expire or they are retrenched.
There are some 2.1 million foreign workers in the country, with about one million of them in the manufacturing and services sector.
Dr Subramaniam said there would be exemptions if it is proven that their services are critically needed in some of the manufacturing and services sectors.
He said the ministry would also hold discussions with relevant agencies on whether foreign workers could be done away with in other sectors.
“If their services are not needed, then we can put a stop to hiring them. But in sectors where they are necessary, we have to allow them in,” he said, adding that foreign workers were needed in the plantation and construction sectors.
In an immediate response, MTUC president Syed Shahir Syed Mahmud said it was important that all parties strictly adhered to the Cabinet’s directive.
“There should not be any exemptions and we don’t want some quarters to use the recruitment as a means to make money,” he said.
Syed Shahir said the MTUC was not against foreign workers but would not tolerate abuses by unscrupulous employment agents on the workers.
“We want the workers to be protected,” he said.
Cuepacs president Omar Osman said the freeze was welcome as it would provide more job opportunities for the locals.
He said this was a logical move as many locals were out of work due to the current global economic uncertainty.
Omar said although the civil service was not affected by foreign workers, Cuepacs wanted the workers to be protected.
In Putrajaya, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said jobs in the manufacturing and services sectors could be handled by locals.
“As far as the ministry is concerned, this is not the time to employ foreigners.
“There should not be any request to bring in workers from abroad as people are talking about an economic slowdown and companies are retrenching. In fact, if there are retrenchments, foreign workers should be the first to go,” he told reporters after attending the ministry’s monthly gathering yesterday.

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