Malaysia tightens approval of migrant work permits

June 17th, 2008 - 7:33 am ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, June 16 (DPA) Malaysia will tighten procedures for hiring of foreign workers in an effort to reduce the country’s dependency on migrant labour, its home minister said Monday. Syed Hamid Albar said stricter conditions for hiring foreigners would encourage employers to hire and train local workers.

“Personally, I wonder why the employers opt for foreign workers when locals could be trained,” he was quoted as saying by the official Bernama agency.

Syed Hamid said there were currently 2 million foreign workers, and about 4 million illegal immigrants in the country, most of whom work in the construction industry.

Despite its efforts to cut down on foreign labour, Malaysia remains heavily dependent on immigrant workers, especially the agriculture and construction.

Last month, the government said it aimed to reduce the number of foreign workers by 500,000 over the next three years.

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