Myanmar bans citizens from heading to Malaysia for work

Author: PM editorial | Date: 7 Dec 2016

Diplomatic crisis over treatment of Rohingya Muslims could create serious labour shortage

Myanmar’s immigration ministry is refusing to issue working visas to citizens wanting to work in Malaysia, after the Malaysian prime minister criticised Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims.
Thousands of Malaysians held a rally on Sunday 4 December in Kuala Lumpur to protest against a military crackdown in the west of Myanmar that has forced more than 20,000 Rohingya Muslims into Bangladesh.
A statement from the immigration ministry said employment agencies in Myanmar would not be licensed to send nationals to find jobs in neighbouring Malaysia from 6 December. However, the ban was described as “temporary” and in place “because of the current situation in Malaysia,” suggesting that it will be lifted when the relationship between the two nations improves.
The ban could mean a serious labour shortage for Malaysian businesses. In February, the country imposed its own ban on all new foreign workers (which has since been lifted) after fears that 1.5 million new Bangladeshi workers could place a heavy strain on the country’s infrastructure.
But Malaysia Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, told The Sun Daily that organisations with a large proportion of workers from Myanmar would need to consider alternatives.
"They should look at the possibility of employing more women and older workers,” said Shamsuddin. “Women's participation in the employment market stands at 54 per cent and this can always be pushed to a higher level.
"Retirees can always be encouraged to return to work, and those retiring can be asked to continue working. Yearly, about 200,000 employees retire in the private sector," he said.
According to Shamsuddin, there are 147,000 workers from Myanmar in the country. Of those, 72 per cent are in the manufacturing sector, 13 per cent in construction, 11 per cent in services and four per cent in the plantation and agriculture sector.