Malaysian manpower shortage getting worse as foreign workers leave

Author: PM editorial | Date: 25 May 2016

Deputy home minister says overseas employees are being mistreated

The recent labour shortages that Malaysia has been experiencing are set to continue as the number of foreign workers in the country dropped by around 140,000 compared to this time last year.
 
Sectors that are heavily dependent on foreign labour, such as the furniture industry, are facing further operational problems caused by foreign workers are leaving.
 
The deputy home minister, Nur Jazlan Mohamed, attributed this to workers from abroad not being well treated by Malaysian employers. “It seems the number of foreign workers from various countries wanting to come to Malaysia has reduced. This is because Malaysian employers do not treat them well,” he told Malaysia’s lower house of parliament, Dewan Rakyat. “Workers from Nepal, Philippines and Indonesia can now find jobs that give them better treatment elsewhere.”
 
During a session of parliament, Sekijang MP Anuar Abd Manap, asked the home ministry for an update on the rehiring of foreign workers, as well as the ratio of foreign labour to local employees set by the government.
 
Earlier this month, the government lifted the ban on new foreign workers for four industry sectors that were worst hit by the ban in February: manufacturing, construction, plantations and furniture making. However, the flow of labour for these sectors has been disrupted and it will take time for normal service to resume. Other sectors may have to wait until February next year before they can hire workers from abroad once more.
 
Mohamed said one reason foreign workers feel mistreated is Malaysian organisations not wanting to take responsibility for their wellbeing, leaving it instead to the agents they use to hire them. "Employers don’t want to be held accountable for the welfare of foreign workers and they prefer to get the services of the agents that provide these foreign workers and most of the time, these are illegal workers," he said.
 
As of 31 March 2016, there are 1,993,000 foreign workers in Malaysia; at the same time in 2015 it was 2,135,000.