Malaysia has banned the recruitment of new foreign workers after widespread criticism of its decision to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshis to work in the country, a move that may also affect Indian laborers.
“There will not be one, let alone 1.5 million new foreign workers coming into our country,” Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.
However, the decision, which was made at a Cabinet meeting on Saturday, would not involve the domestic help or the maid sector.
Ahmad Zahid, also the country’s home minister, said employers who want to hire foreign workers should recruit from among foreign employees already in Malaysia.
The move comes after widespread criticism of its decision to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshis to work in Malaysia, which relies heavily on foreign workers from India, Indonesia and Bangladesh to help out in manufacturing and construction sectors.
Most Malaysians are reluctant to work in these sectors.
“Employers who need workers will have to apply to legalize existing foreigners in the country without work permits or whose permits have expired,” the minister told reporters.
Ahmad Zahid said employers had until June 30 to legalize such foreign workers.
“The Government is bringing forward the deadline from Dec. 31, because employers continuously ignore the chances given to them,” he was quoted as saying in the local media.
“Instead, the government is criticized and pressured. If they can’t hire anyone, they should just get the Malaysian Employers Federation, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers and Malaysian Trade Union Congress to help them find locals to do the job,” he said sarcastically.