Bangkok, July 29, (dpa/GNA) – In apparent effort to reduce the country’s high foreign worker population, Malaysia will limit recruitment to three sectors, Deputy Human Resource Minister Awang Solahudin said the country’s parliament on Wednesday.
“These sectors are construction, agriculture and plantations, » the minister told lawmakers.
The minister said that the government hopes employers in other sectors where many foreigners currently work – such as catering and manufacturing – will in turn hire more Malaysians once foreign hires are proscribed in those sectors.
Malaysia, the third-wealthiest country per capita in South-east Asia, hosts an estimated 3-5 million migrant workers. Many hail from countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Myanmar and work in low-paying jobs usually shunned by Malaysians.
Undocumented workers number between 1 million and 1.5 million, according to estimates by the World Bank and International Labour Organization.
Such migrants face regular police raids, with almost 6,000 deported since Malaysia on March 18 imposed a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The lockdown ended on May 4, though some restrictions remain. A ban on most foreign arrivals and a government-ordained recruitment freeze have caused labour shortages on plantations, with the Malaysian Palm Oil Association last week warning that yields could fall by 25 per cent.
Malaysia’s police are investigating Doha-based Al Jazeera for a documentary about the country’s treatment of migrants during the pandemic, broadcast earlier this month.
Mohamad Rayhan Kabir, a Bangladeshi migrant who was interviewed for the report, was arrested by police and faces deportation.
On Wednesday, Kabir’s lawyer, CR Selva, told local media that his client « asked me to convey his apology to all Malaysians. »