Malaysia spells troubles for foreign workforce

KATHMANDU: Malaysia has ordered business companies in the country to hire locals, who have lost their jobs due to global financial crisis, instead of foreign workers.

“Malaysian companies must hire locals hereafter,” Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said,

disclosing the cabinet decision yesterday. The decision will strongly

impact affect Nepali migrant workers, who are working as unskilled labourers in Malaysia’s manufacturing, agriculture and service sectors.

Malaysia relies heavily on foreign labour from India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nepal

in its construction, plantation and restaurant


The global economic meltdown has already affected the destination since January 2009, with a 30.62 per cent fall compared to the previous year. The number of Nepali workers going to Malaysia was slashed from 50,554 in 2007-08 to 35,070 in 2008-09. Around 4,00,000 Nepalis are working in 3D — difficult, dirty and dangerous — jobs in Malaysia with an average income of Rs 10,000 each per month.

Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies president Tilak Ranabhat said he hoped this decision would not hit Nepali migrant labourers. “Malaysia is working on the phase-out of foreign workers. So, it will not affect Nepal in the immediate future,” he said. Malaysians never want to do the jobs Nepalis are doing, he said adding that Nepal needs to find other destinations as the phase-out has already started since January 2009.

However, Malaysians are not enthusiastic about the government decision because the sectors where Nepalis and Bangladeshis are working are the least paying. That is why manufacturing and service sector companies have been facing labour shortage and hiring foreign workers illegally. “We want the two sectors (restaurants and hair dressing saloons/barber shops) to rely less on foreign workers and employ locally-trained people,” Malaysia’s Home Monister Hussein said. This sector is mainly filled by Indian workers.

The Malaysian Home Ministry is investigating whether companies are breaching rules in bringing in foreign workers. “If they are found guilty of the offence, their licenses will be revoked,” Hussein said.

According to the

government decision,

human resources, international trade and industry, and plantation industries and commodities will decide the need for foreign workers.

Moreover, the government has decided to the complete phase-out of Bangladeshi workers. “The government is aware of the fact that certain sectors cannot survive without foreign workers,” Hussein said. “We are introducing massive training for locals in these sectors.”

Malaysia doesn’t want unskilled foreign workers from now on, he said adding the issue of

permit will stop from next month — September.

Orientation centre

QATAR: Nepal, with support from Qatar, is establishing foreign employment orientation centres in Kathmandu to inform Nepali workers flying to Doha about heart attacks. The increasing deaths of Nepali workers from heart attacks in Qatar has prompted both the governments to mull the plan. Nepal’s ambassador to Qatar Dr Surya Nath Mishra said that it is a matter of worry. According to records at the Nepali embassy, in 2006 among 143 deaths of Nepali workers in Qatar, 72 died of heart problems. The number swelled in 2007 as out of 162 deaths heart problems took 103 lives. Dr Mishra said that 125 Nepali workers have died this year and among them more than half — 68 people — died of heart problems. — RSS