There Are Now More Foreign Workers Than Ethnic Indians In Malaysia

Based on the data from past surveys, there are about 3.1 million documented migrant workers in Malaysia last year.

Cover image via Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images via Guardian

In recent years, the issue of foreign labour in Malaysia has come under public scrutiny as there are growing concerns on the economic, social, and political impacts it has on the nation

A report by The Edge Markets yesterday, 25 April, revealed that the number of foreign workers in the country surpassed the Indian population in Malaysia last year.

This conclusion was made by Women, Family and Community Development Ministry’s Deputy Undersecretary, Policy Division (Community Development), Chua Choon Hwa based on the Department of Statistics Malaysia and the National Labour Survey 2014.

The data from the statistics puts the population of migrants at 3.1 million last year, and which have already surpassed the Indian population at 2.1 million.

Based on the current trend, the population of migrant workers in the country may even overtake the number of ethnic Chinese people here

"In 2034, the migrant population would have overtaken the number of Chinese by 7.5 million to 7.4 million. According to the projection, migrant population would make up 24.2% of Malaysia's population by 2040," Chua was quoted as saying by The Edge Markets.

These figures suggest that the Chinese population, the second largest ethnic group after the Malays in Malaysia, would drop to the third place after the bumiputra and foreign migrant workers.

This was revealed at the 'Malaysia's Population in 2050: What Does This Mean Socio-Economically?' forum organised by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Isis) yesterday, 25 April.

Chua also said that the rising number of foreign workers in Malaysia should be studied

The Edge Market reported Chua as saying that only five out of 100 migrants are skilled jobs workers while nine out of 20 migrants are holding labour intensive jobs.

"It's (foreign labour issue) definitely something we have to think about… how do we adjust the labour market so that our local workforce would be fully utilised," he was quoted as saying.

Like Chua, many experts have warned that the bloated foreign workforce in Malaysia is akin to a time bomb that may go off anytime.

Despite the growing influx of foreigners into the country, the Malaysian government appears to be unfazed about the possible repercussions for the overreliance on foreign labour

Early last year, there was an uproar following the controversial announcement by the government to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi nationals in stages over a period of three years.

Then a few months ago, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the government will be issuing temporary passes for illegal foreign workers.

He cited shortages of workers in the poultry farming, mining and quarrying, cargo handling, and hospitality and tourism.

This was after the Malaysian Employers Federa­tion (MEF) had estimated a staggering total of six million foreign workers in the country, including legal and illegal foreign workers.

Do you think the government should implement a total freeze on foreign workers? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Here are some interesting statistics and facts on the issue of migrant workers in Malaysia:

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