KOTA KINABALU September 11, 2012: Sabahans working in Singapore are always welcome to work at home again, said Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM) president Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau.
“We believe that is always good for our workers to be exposed overseas, to gain experience and bring those know-how and skills back to the State.
“So, we always welcome them to come back home and work here, to use their experience and help develop the state’s industry,”
he said when commenting on the new ruling imposed by Singapore that it no longer allows workers from Sabah and Sarawak under the age of 35 to work there.
The new ruling which has yet to be made official by the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore, would effectively bar fresh workers below 35 years old from entering the republic while those within that age group and already working there would not be allowed to renew their work permits after they expire within two years.
Wong said there are plenty of job opportunities available in the State and experienced workers coming back from Singapore would not have any difficulties finding employment.
“I cannot say much about the pay as Singapore obviously offers better pay but Sabah definitely needs people to work in almost all sectors.
“This is why we have a lot of foreign workers coming into Sabah, because there are a lot of job vacancies here.
“Of course the pay is lower compared to that in Singapore, but the fact is that we do need workers and have enough vacancies for the locals, provided they are willing to work.
“If they can work in Singapore, I have no doubt that they can find work here easily, except maybe if they are too specialized in certain discipline or skills, but for general workers they should not have problem finding jobs here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Wong said the introduction of the blanket punishment for employees from Sabah and Sarawak in Singapore was regrettable and could be viewed as tarnishing the image of the State.
Instead of imposing such discriminatory laws, he said the Singapore government should examine the cause as to why Sabahans, or other foreign workers in Singapore for that matter, were involved in crime activities in the country.
The authorities, he added, should identify the contributing factors and then communicate with Malaysia and the Sabah government on any proposal or ideas to deal with these factors.
He noted that there were cases where honest workers from Sabah were dubbed into criminal activities by crime network operating in several countries.
“There are young people who went overseas with job agencies thinking they would be given honest jobs but end up being forced into drug trafficking or other criminal activities.
“Some other workers suffered financially after being cheated by their agent, who promised them certain salary but when they get there the pay is not even half of what was promised, making them an easy target for crime recruiters.
“However, I believe Singapore must have some figures on crime involving Sabahan workers to back the new law. The republic is quite an organized country and it is easy to think that it must have a good reason for imposing such a ruling.
“It must be quite serious where Sabahans represent a high percentage of the crime figures in Singapore that the government has to resort to banning Sabahan workers from entering the country.
“But we don’t know the real situation. What is the extent or percentage of crime involving Sabahans, and if it is true that the number is that high that warrants for such a drastic move, then it is of course embarrassing for us, and indeed bad for our image,” he said.
He stressed the Singapore government needed to be absolutely transparent in dealing with the issue, and provides proper justification before imposing such a law that could be unfavorable to diplomatic ties with the Malaysian government.
He said it was unfortunate for Sabahan workers to be known for the wrong reason but young people in the State should take it as a constructive lesson and a reminder to behave themselves while they are in other countries like they would at home.
“They must remember that they are not just imported workers but represent Malaysia and Sabah, and they are basically ambassadors of their home country.
“Whatever it is, this new ruling by Singapore should serve as reminder to all our young workers overseas to always respect the law of the country they are working in,” he said.
by Murib Morpi