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‘Holistic solution needed for foreign workers’ issue’

PETALING JAYA: A holistic solution is being worked on to find a way to resolve the issue of undocumented foreign workers and the problems faced by employers to seek workers, says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

I am in the midst of discussing with a few consultants for a comprehensive solution. It is a complex issue, he said.

He added that the Government has to control the population of foreign workers while ensuring continued economic growth.

Some of the solutions may only suit certain sectors. But there is no one solution for all as each industry has different needs and requirements, he told reporters at the first Asia Retail & O2O Conference and Expo 2017 press conference yesterday.

Dr Wee said there is a need for closer coordination between various departments as some emplo-yers were facing hiccups when they applied for the E-Kad (enforcement cards) for their foreign workers.

He cited several problems faced by Malaysian employers.

Some employers are reluctant to register their foreign workers as they are not sure that these workers will continue to work for them after they have obtained the E-Kad.

Other employers are waiting to hire new foreign workers but they may not be able to get them. There are also issues that would require arrangement between countries.

Dr Wee said there were those who believed that the number of foreign workers in Malaysia should be reduced.

But the construction, plantation, export-oriented manufacturing sectors still need to hire foreign workers.

I have been told that mamak stalls need three shifts (for their foreign workers). For the Indian community, barber shops need to hire workers from India, he added.

Dr Wee said some flexibility should be given to businesses so that economic activities would not be affected.

But not to the extent where a Bangladeshi can become an owner of a car wash. The authorities have started arresting illegal foreign workers soon after the E-Kad application deadline ended in June 30 this year, he added.

The Cabinet has maintained its decision not to extend the E-Kad registration deadline for foreign workers despite pleas from employers who wanted more time to register their undocumented workers.

Source: Malaysian Trades Union Congress

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