19 February 2016, Bloomberg

Malaysia said it will suspend the recruitment of foreign workers while it assesses gaps in the labor force, a second flip-flop on employment policies this month after objections over the plans.

The freeze will also allow the government to review a levy system for overseas workers in Malaysia, state news agency Bernama reported Friday, citing Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi. The decision came after companies and some non-government organizations protested a reported intake of 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh over the next three years, which the government earlier said was to meet the demands of industries.

Malaysia’s Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem clarified Friday that he signed an agreement with Bangladesh’s government this week that would allow 1.5 million Bangladeshis registered to seek work overseas to find jobs in Malaysia. It didn’t mean that all of them will make their way to the Southeast Asian nation, he said.

The explanation came after widespread criticism in Malaysia, with at least one manufacturers group saying the entry of a large number of workers would exacerbate the problem of undocumented foreign labor in the country. The policy also diverges from a plan to reduce reliance on overseas workers.



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