Malaysia freezes hiring of foreigners in manufacturing and services

January 22nd, 2009 - 12:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 22 (IANS) Malaysia has decided to freeze the recruitment of foreigners in the manufacturing and service sectors to provide jobs to locals, a media report said Thursday. Announcing a cabinet decision, Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam said Wednesday that cabinet members felt the time had come to look at the welfare of locals who faced possible lay-offs, New Straits Times reported.

He said employers would have to recruit locals.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said he would discuss with Subramaniam how the new decision could be implemented.

Speaking after his ministry’s monthly gathering, Albar said in the event employers had to downsize, they must stop engaging foreign workers and retrench those working here first.

“This is not the time for employers to ask for foreign workers. The first to be retrenched should be foreigners and not locals.”

Albar was commenting on a human resources ministry’s report that about 45,000 workers, mostly Malaysians, would be retrenched over the Chinese New Year season.

“There is no valid reason to bring in foreign workers at this time. I am facing all sorts of pressures (to bring in the workers).

“I will hold discussions with Subramaniam on how we can extend this policy to more sectors.”

He said Malaysians should not try to circumvent the government’s decision by introducing service contracts or outsourcing projects.

Albar said the government’s decision that owners of petrol stations should stop employing foreigners had fallen on deaf ears. “I see foreigners working there. This is a clear breach of government policy.”

He added that people should extend their cooperation to the government as it worked to face the weakening economic situation.

A prosperous tiger economy of Southeast Asia, Malaysia is heavily dependent upon foreign workers for its industry, service sector and even for domestic maids.

An estimated three million foreign workers come here from neighbouring Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, besides South Asia.

A large number of IT hands from India form part of this work force.

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