Government / Public Policy

Foreign workers application interviews decentralised

PUTRAJAYA: Employers applying for foreign workers through the Human Resources Ministry do not need to attend foreign worker application interviews anymore.

The ministry had decided to decentralise the process to avoid congestion and inconvenience for employers, by allowing them to be present at their respective state Labour offices.

The decision was made after a two-hour briefing session here today with DAP leaders Lim Guan Eng, Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham and M. Kulasegaran who had accused Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan of failing to address the current foreign worker shortage issue nationwide.

The briefing was also attended by several stakeholders, including Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM), Construction Labour Exchange Centre Bhd (CLAB) and others affected by foreign worker shortages.

Several issues related to foreign workers application processes, such as online application, long waiting time, verification process for fake documents, decentralising the interview session and low intake of workers in certain sectors was also raised during the briefing session.

In response, Saravanan listed out all the initiatives taken by the ministry to overcome the labour shortage, since he took over the post from Kulasegaran in March 2020.

"There was not much we could do when I assumed the ministerial post because of Covid-19. It was only in April that the borders were reopened and we were able to hold talks with the (labour) source country," he said.

He said the ministry has undertaken all possible efforts to address the shortage, including approving the application involving the 1.24 million foreign workforce which is already in the country.

"There is still a big number of workers who are in the process of coming here, but it will happen in stages," he said, adding that Malaysia would have about 2.2 million foreign workers, the highest ever, soon.

Speaking on the decision to decentralise the interview session with employers, Saravanan said that could be done, if it alleviates congestion at the headquarters.

"They (asked the ministry) to keep the decentralised interview. I can do that, no problem, we will keep it," said Saravanan replying to Ngeh who questioned employers' difficulties to physically come to Putrajaya for the process or to update simple details such as home address and phone numbers.

Ngeh and Kulasegaran earlier proposed for interviews to be held virtually for the purpose of saving time and reducing costs.

"There were situations where employers produce fake documents such as local authority licences, income tax statement and Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) when the interview is carried out online and that was why we asked them to be present physically," Saravanan explained.

He added that hiring of foreign workers should be done carefully so that there was no excess of foreign workers in the country, as the situation was in 2009.

"We had so many of them that they were found sleeping almost everywhere, in the capital," he said.

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