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No sign of inbound foreign workers yet

Friday, 13 May 2022

Local farmer named Wak was working in village palm oil plantation area in Sabak Bernam of Malaysia. This photo was captured in July 2016.

Local farmer named Wak was working in village palm oil plantation area in Sabak Bernam of Malaysia. 

KUCHING: The acute shortage of foreign workers faced in Malaysia is unlikely to be solved anytime soon.

Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (SOPPOA) chief executive officer Dr Felix Moh Mee Ho said there were many signs that the Indonesian government will continue to restrict its citizens to seek employment in Malaysia.

He said neither there is any further progress since Malaysia and Bangladesh signed an agreement to reopen the job market several months ago.

“Like all sectors, SOPPOA remains unclear of the prospects in terms of availability of foreign workers,” he said in a statement.

He said this was despite the announcement of much anticipated uplifting of restrictions to allow international traveling to resume after two years of total lockdown.

Moh said the federal government had also promised that with the implementation of the RM1,500 minimum wage, would enable the business industry to resume foreign worker recruitment at the same time a higher pay will encourage more locals to take up job in various sectors.

However, he said, none of the above mentioned seem to give immediate realization.

The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities and Ministry of Human Resources have agreed to fast track the application to bring in the 32,000 foreign for Semenanjung Malaysia, which was approved last year. However, it was regrettable to note that Sarawak palm oil industry was once again not part of the equation.

“Sarawak palm oil industry seriously shorted 45,000 foreign workers last year and this figure had increased by now,” he said.

SOPPOA, he said, had actively engaged with relevant state departments and many of the issues raised had received overwhelming support.

SOPPOA hoped the state government would resolve this foreign worker shortage by strengthening the following approaches, including negotiating directly with its Indonesian counterpart to resume sending its citizens to Sarawak’s market.

“We also urged the government to expedite the consideration of approving other source countries for foreign workers for the plantation sector and to cut red tape and improve processing time for foreign worker recruitment,” he added.