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Malaysia now says foreign worker recruitment 'suspended'
Saturday, 20 February 2016

In a quick reversal of its stance, Malaysia has \'suspended\' the recruitment of all foreign workers to Malaysia, including those from Bangladesh.

The decision will remain in force until the Southeast Asian country ascertains the actual manpower needs of industries.

\"Foreign workers without valid documents or have overstayed in the country will be arrested and sent back to their country of origin,\" said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Friday.

Zahid, also the Malaysian Home Minister, was speaking in Kuching, Sarawak, saying the decision of suspension came after a thorough consideration while the government would also review recent changes to the levy system on foreign workers, according to Malaysian state-owned agency Bernama, Malaysian media outlets – The Star Online and Malaysian Insider.com.

The announcement came hours after the Human Resources Minister of the Southeast Asian country said not all of the 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers thought to be headed for Malaysia were meant for the country.

Zahid said the suspension would be in place as the Malaysian government will review the two-tier levy programme for foreign workers, Malaysian media outlet The Star Online reported him as saying.

The Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister also said the government would focus on the foreign worker rehiring programme and step up enforcement to ensure that no more foreigners enter the country as workers.

Zahid said the enforcement against illegal foreign workers would be stepped up and implemented on a large scale in the country.

He said it was expected that Malaysians, especially youths, would respond to the government call for local people to take up the jobs now held by foreigners and become the mainstay of the nation\'s workforce to drive national economic growth.
\"The suspension will be in force until the government is satisfied with the manpower needs of the industries,\" he said.

Talking to UNB, President of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) Mohammed Abul Basher said they are \'hopeful\' the suspension will soon be withdrawn.

\"Though it\'s a state-level issue to deal with, we\'re very hopeful that the Malaysian government will soon come up with a decision on their foreign manpower needs,\" he said adding that the issue is entirely an internal issue of Malaysian government.

Earlier on the same day, Malaysian Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot said the number actually referred to the number of Bangladeshis registered with the Ministry in Bangladesh to work in 139 countries worldwide.

\"There\'re a total of 1.5 million Bangladeshis registered for future employment in foreign countries, but that\'s not the number of workers coming to Malaysia,\" says Riot.

\"The perception that 1.5 million? workers will be brought in from Bangladesh to work in Malaysia is not true,\" Malaysian media outlet The Star Online quoted the Human Resources Minister as saying.

At a press conference on Friday in Malaysia, he said the Bangladeshis were seeking employment in 139 countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, The Star Online reported from Putrajaya.

He hoped the clarification would allay fears and concern that a huge influx of foreigners, particularly from Bangladesh, were on their way to Malaysia.

As of December last year, there are 2,135,035 documented foreign workers in Malaysia, of which 282,287 are from Bangladesh.

Riot also said the Memorandum of Understanding signed in Dhaka on Thursday was similar to what the government had previously signed with Indonesia, India, Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Earlier, it was reported that Malaysia will recruit 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers in the next five years.

Malaysia\'s Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem and Bangladesh\'s Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam BSc signed the MoU on Thursday in Dhaka.