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Putrajaya Just Opened A New Window For Illegal Workers To Become 'Legal'. Here's How

Malaysia has about 1.86 million foreign workers. It needs 2.3 million to meet demand.

Cover image via Yusof Mat Isa/The Malay Mail Online

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the Government will be offering Temporary Foreign Worker Cards (TFWC) to illegal workers to absorb them into the workforce legally

Image via daily sun

This, despite the criticism from several civil and trade groups over its plan to bring in more foreign workers last year.

If undocumented and illegal migrants are taken into account, Putrajaya's foreign worker limit of 15% as a ratio of the workforce will likely surpass, which is actually greater than the population of these nations.

It will be done through the Immigration Department

This decision, he said, was made to fulfil the shortage of migrant workers following the freeze on the intake of foreign labour since February 2016.

Therefore, this move ensures that operations and production are not be disrupted and will allow authorities to monitor foreigners who are in the country, he added.

And the TFWC would need to be renewed annually through the Immigration Department's Foreign Workers Division

Ahmad Zahid said the card issuance to foreign workers brought in without documents or whose nationality was not recognised by the country of origin would be implemented after a written confirmation from the Attorney-General Chambers is received.

"If they do not have documents, they are classified as illegal workers while employers who do not pay the levy, their employees are certainly not protected by insurance besides not getting social-benefit if any accident occurs," he told Bernama.

This initiative, the DPM assured, is only for those illegal workers who are already employed and the process would be carefully scrutinised so that it is only based on need

Speaking in detail about the initiative, Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, told The Malay Mail Online that the Temporary Foreign Workers' Card (TFWC) will serve as an identification card, besides the Temporary Foreign Work Permit (PLKS).

He highlighted the importance of the initiative saying if illegal workers continue to be employed illegally, the Government will lose out on levy collections while putting the workers at risk as they won't qualify for the insurance coverage.

Additionally, to ease the worker shortage, the Government has allowed four sectors to employ foreign workers

According to The Star Online, these sectors are poultry farming, mining and quarrying, cargo handling, and hospitality and tourism.

However, approval for the mining and quarrying and hospitality and tourism sectors will only be given until 2020, The Star Online reported.

"We are aware of the shortages faced by these sectors and that is why we will allow employers to take in workers so that their operations will not be disrupted," said Zahid.

He explained it was to meet the urgent need of how the subsector could not attract local workers, as they find mining and quarrying activities as a 3D (dirty, difficult and dangerous) job.

According to the DPM, there's a lack of foreign workers in the country, which has affected the country's output badly

"We were informed that productivity was affected because employers face a shortage of workers. This decision will allow employers to boost their production and we hope the economy and the export sector will benefit from it," Zahid told reporters.

Stats provided by Putrajaya show that the number of PLKS holders or temporary permit for foreign workers in 2016 had declined by 12.6% to 1,866,369 persons from 2,135,035 in 2015, which caused a significant decline in exports

While the decline of about 300,000 foreign workers made a significant impact on the export value of products produced in the country and disrupted the service sector's productivity, DPM Zahid assured that the Government remains committed to reducing the intake of foreign workers in stages.

Although the Government would not haphazardly hire foreigners and would always prioritise the needs of the local workforce, Ahmad Zahid said that the country is in need of 2.3 million foreign workers, but only has about 1.86 million at present.

What do you think about the Government's initiative? Do you think it's fair to locals? Comment below to let us know.

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