‘Al­low all sec­tors to hire for­eign work­ers’

> ACCCIM says 45% of busi­nesses ad­versely af­fected by re­stric­tion

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP - BY EVA YEONG

KUALA LUMPUR: The As­so­ci­ated Chi­nese Cham­bers of Com­merce and In­dus­try of Malaysia (ACCCIM) wants the govern­ment to al­low all sec­tors to em­ploy for­eign work­ers, af­ter 45% of the Chi­nese busi­ness com­mu­nity said they have been ad­versely af­fected by hir­ing re­stric­tions.

Pres­i­dent Datuk Ter Leong Yap said the govern­ment’s move to limit the hir­ing of for­eign work­ers to only four sec­tors (man­u­fac­tur­ing, con­struc­tion, plan­ta­tion and fur­ni­ture-mak­ing) has re­sulted in labour short­age, which has af­fected the op­er­a­tions of many busi­nesses.

“ACCCIM urges the govern­ment to lift the freeze on for­eign work­ers for all sec­tors and fully stream­line the le­gal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme on for­eign work­ers, and to carry out a re­view and mea­sures to for­mu­late the con­di­tions and guide­lines on the em­ploy­ment of for­eign work­ers based on the de­mand and sup­ply of for­eign labour in the re­spec­tive sec­tors,” he told re­porters at a brief­ing yes­ter­day on ACCCIM’s Sur­vey on the Eco­nomic Sit­u­a­tion of Malaysia for the First Half of 2016 (1H 2016).

The sur­vey re­vealed that of the to­tal 407 re­spon­dents, 40% said they rely on for­eign work­ers and 45% said they were af­fected by the re­stric­tion.

Among those who were af­fected, 48% reported higher cost of op­er­a­tions, 35% reported a drop in busi­ness turnover, 11% reported neg­a­tive busi­ness growth while 6% said they had to down­size their busi­nesses to man­age costs.

In terms of plans to solve the labour short­age is­sue, 44% would re­cruit more lo­cals, 24.5% would adopt a wait-and­see ap­proach while ap­peal­ing to the govern­ment to lift the freeze, 14.1% would move to­wards au­to­ma­tion, 11.4% would pass on costs in­curred to cus­tomers, 4.3% would con­sider mov­ing their busi­nesses over­seas and 1.6% would con­sider switch­ing to less labour-in­ten­sive busi­nesses.

“The ca­pac­ity of pro­duc­tion is ac­tu­ally quite low now com­pared with po­ten­tial ca­pac­ity. Fac­to­ries have to turn away or­ders. For those with or­ders to ful­fil, with­out enough work­ers, they pay over­time and when they pay over­time, cost goes up and pro­duc­tiv­ity comes down. These are the ef­fects,” said ACCCIM deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral I Tan Sri Teo Chi­ang Kok.

He said the govern­ment’s move to re­duce de­pen­dence on for­eign labour is good but the poli­cies in­tro­duced over the years seem to be knee-jerk re­ac­tions and do not ad­dress the root cause.

“We’re look­ing at the symp­toms but not ad­dress­ing the root cause and a lot of times it is putting ob­sta­cles and us­ing threat­en­ing meth­ods like freez­ing as­sets. This is not the way to ad­dress the is­sue of for­eign work­ers,” he said.

Teo ex­plained that with the coun­try’s unem­ploy­ment rate at 3.3%, which is tech­ni­cally full em­ploy­ment, there are just not enough lo­cal work­ers to meet all the labour needs of the econ­omy.

Ter (seated, cen­tre) and Teo (seated, sec­ond from right) with other of­fi­cials of the ACCCIM hold­ing up copies of the sur­vey re­port.

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