KUALA LUMPUR: The government should increase the levy on foreign workers to RM5,000 and set limits on the employment of foreign workers by industry, pending discussions with all stakeholders, said Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in a statement.
“There are 5.8 million foreigners in the country, 2.135 million legal and 3.7 million illegal.
“The intake of more foreign workers is unnecessary.”
Foreign workers reduce job opportunities for local workers, added Nurul. “About 70 per cent have SPM/O-level education.”
The MP recalled that Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced the intake of 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh in June 2015. In the same breath, she said, the government announced a restructuring of the levy system for foreign workers from February 1, 2016. “These two announcements contradict each other.”
A cursory glance at Low Yatt Plaza, various eateries in the city and suburban areas, gas stations, hotels, construction industry, and factories such as Volkswagen show the overwhelming use of migrant workers, said the MP. “As a result, salary increases continue to be stagnant.
“Industries should hire local workers who will be attracted by commensurate pay.”
In pursuit of a people-oriented economic vision, the government should set a minimum wage of RM1,350 this year and RM1,850 by 2020 in line to achieve a ratio of 40 per cent of the total GDP being accorded to wages, said Nurul. “The 40 per cent target was mentioned by Minister Wahid Omar but to date, we are still waiting.”
She urged the government to seriously consider the recommendations of Acting MTUC President Abdullah Sani Abdul Halim that the levy hike be linked to the required quotas by sectors to prevent the dumping of foreign workers in the country. “The government should be fair to the Malaysian workforce by first addressing the issue of the influx of foreign workers in the country.”
If indeed it was based on the needs of industry, then Parliament should be privy to the list of companies and industries that are in need of foreign workers, said Nurul. “Such an assessment would prove useful for Malaysians to ascertain the need of industries and accordingly meet them.”
A simplified cop-out solution will not address ongoing concerns arising from such huge numbers of foreign workers in the country, warned Nurul. “It negatively impacts on society, as well as validates loopholes in enforcement that allow for the victimisation of foreign workers.”