KUALA LUMPUR, The Plantations and Commodities Ministry has proposed a strict penalty where companies will be fined up to RM30,000 for each foreign worker brought in who is not employed after a month.
Utusan Malaysia reported its minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani as saying that it is crucial to act in this manner as the country’s commodity sector is currently facing difficulties in obtaining foreign workers.
He said that the ministry had proposed the matter at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting where Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had also wanted the issue of foreign workers to be resolved immediately.
“We receive lots of reports saying that many foreign workers come to our country, but there is no work for them.
“Recently in Pengerang, Johor there were 2,500 foreign workers who were cheated by employment agents.
“Therefore, I want to suggest that any company that brings in foreign workers to our country to ensure that they will be employed. If within a month there is still no work, the company should be fined up to RM30,000 for each worker,” he was quoted saying after a press conference in Putrajaya that was published by the Malay language daily today.
Johari was quoted in the report saying that the strict penalty imposed would force companies to reconsider bringing in workers if they could not guarantee them employment.
“This issue is important for the Plantation and Commodities Ministry to fill the vacancies by foreign workers in the country’s commodity sector.
“If the issue is not dealt with immediately, it tarnishes the country’s image and crucial industries such as in palm oil and rubber plantations suffer due to the lack of workers,” he said.
In the report, Johari said if the government was to intervene, it needed to legalise the workers and allocate them to our local plantations.
He said that 420,000ha of rubber plantations could not be utilised due to the absence of workers.
“With approximately 1.5ha per worker, we are looking at around 70,000 workers needed at our plantations,” he said.
On December 25, it was reported that about 2,500 Bangladeshi migrant workers in Pengerang, Johor claimed to have been duped by their employment agents into coming to Malaysia for non-existent jobs.
The matter was revealed by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Legal and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said described the issue as only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and called for an immediate probe into the matter.
Azalina, who is also the Pengerang MP, said she has also brought up the matter to Human Resources Minister Steven Sim Chee Keong.