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Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J. Solomon (left) has refused to apologise to Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran over recent heated exchanges between them. - NSTP pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J. Solomon has refused to apologise to Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran over recent heated exchanges between them.

The spat between the unionist and the minister was sparked by a report that 150,000 unskilled workers from Pakistan will be recruited by Malaysia to be employed as security guards in Malaysia.

Solomon said he was bemused by Kulasegaran’s demand that he apologise for accusing him of “misleading” Malaysians over the report.

“I will not issue any such apology.

“However, I do feel sorry for the minister as, despite the benefit of a tertiary education, he failed to comprehend the essence of my statement and ended up misrepresenting the facts, intentionally or otherwise,” he said in a statement today.

Solomon, referring to what transpired which led to the spat which began on Feb 12, said he had merely remarked that Kulasegaran would be the best person to seek clarification from over the news report.

He added that the report appeared credible, in that it cited the Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Amna Baloch.

The report certainly worried many quarters in Malaysia, including the MTUC, and more so after Kulasegaran said he did not know anything about it, said Solomon.

“As the minister charged with overseeing the labour sector and involved in the recruitment of foreign workers, I had said that Kulasegaran should not wash his hands of the matter but instead, seek clarification from the Home Ministry or the Cabinet, if needed.

“Seeking such clarification ‘quietly’ is part of Kulasegaran's duty as Minister of Human Resources and his collective responsibility as a member of the Pakatan Harapan Cabinet.

“Yet, sadly, Kulasegaran implied that by asking him to seek the clarification, I was, in fact, demanding that he interfere in the running of the Home Ministry.

“Such a notion is absurd and merely reflects the minister’s inability to grasp a simple matter – which is that I merely asked him to help obtain the necessary clarification for the sake of the rakyat”.

Solomon said instead of doing so, Kulasegaran chose to hurl wild and vindictive allegations against him.

He also questioned what is wrong in asking Kulasegaran to verify the report in his capacity as a minister who deals with a wide spectrum of matters involving workers, unions and foreign migrants.

“Why must I apologise to him for asking him to do his job?

“Let me remind him that ministers are servants of the taxpayers and voters who voted them up there,” he added.

Solomon said the Home Ministry has the powers to decide on any recruitment of foreign workers as security guards but, surely, the Human Resources Ministry has the right to seek clarification on such matters as it has direct impact on many areas that come under its own purview.

He added that after almost two years on the job, it appears that Kulasegaran has not learnt much on the importance of engaging the relevant ministries and ministers to help him do his job.

“So, minister sir, please do not feel threatened or insecure, nor offer feeble excuses when you are asked to engage with your fellow Cabinet ministers in seeking clarification on matters relevant to your ministry”, he said.

Solomon also stressed that no one had asked Kulasegaran to usurp the powers of other ministries or interfere in their affairs.

“Which is why I find your demand that I apologise over this ‘Pakistan-gate’ matter as laughable and totally off-track with your conduct, once again, unbecoming of that as a Minister,” he added.

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