More efficient for single ministry to handle management of foreign workers, say business groups

KUALA LUMPUR: Business groups are echoing the call by former human resource minister M. Kula Segaran for the management of foreign workers to be placed solely under the Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR).

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM)'s president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said since 2018, the group has advocated for a more efficient management system for foreign workers through a single ministry and an integrated end-to-end online system.

This approach aims to ensure a comprehensive, equitable, and transparent administration of foreign workers.

He said having two ministries managing foreign workers had led to confusion and flip-flops in government decisions, which had burdened the industry and frustrated employers.

"Having a single agency to solely handle the entire management of foreign workers would ensure that a coherent set of policies could be implemented within a strategic framework for the management of foreign workers which is critical in supporting the economic growth targets of the country which is underpinned in part by the labour requirements of industries including foreign workers," he said in a statement.

Toh said as the labour regulator of the country, MOHR should be the only agency in charge of recruitment and management of foreign workers adding that they have adequate resources to manage foreign workers.

"The Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with source countries are currently signed by the MOHR on behalf of the government in view of their role and responsibilities on labour management in the country. Therefore, the point of contact will be the MOHR and not any other ministries.

"Moreover, Section 60K in the recent amendment to the Employment Act which is effective from Jan 1, provides for employers to obtain approval from the Director-General (DG) of Labour before hiring of any foreign workers as well as inform the DG of any termination of employment including expiration of work permit and deportation.

"In addition, the MOHR is also the custodian of the Workers' Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities (Amendment) Act 2019 (Act 446), which applies to housing of workers and in the case of foreign workers, the proof of compliance and issuance of the Certificate of Accommodation is a requirement in the foreign worker recruitment process," he said.

He added that an end-to-end online system would allow for the creation of a single central database that could be shared among relevant authorities, unlike the current scenario involving multiple systems managed by different agencies.

Yesterday, deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Kula Segaran said it is inefficient and counterproductive to put two ministries in charge of this matter adding that overlapping responsibilities are one of the loopholes that allows for corruption.

His comments came after current Human Resources minister Steven Sim announced that he would meet Home minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to discuss policy improvements related to foreign workers.

Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia's president Ding Hong Sing said it is high time for the government to streamline the management and recruitment of all foreign workers in just one ministry.

He said having departments in two ministries for the recruitment of foreign workers has elongated the process.

"Sometimes we have to wait more than three months for our application for workers to be approved, which is not effective. For example, if you run a food company, you would need your workers right

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