KOTA KINABALU 18 September 2012: A ASSESSMENT mechanism should be in place to restrict "known troublemakers" in Sabah from seeking employment in Singapore, said state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.
"For the good of Sabah's image and reputation, we need to put in place some form of fitness of character assessment.
"Any sovereign nation has the right to determine and manage their own rules of entry for foreigners to their country, especially those who are seeking employment. We have to respect them."
Masidi also suggested that the state Resource Development and Information Technology Ministry should set up an inter-departmental panel to manage and verify all Sabah workers recruited by employment agencies to work in Singapore or the peninsula.
He said such a unit could act as a coordinator between the state and the relevant Singapore authority.
"They could ensure two things, namely every Sabah worker has passed the character fitness assessment, and that every Sabah worker is assured by the Singapore authority that he is getting into bona fide employment there.
"Such a panel would be able to stamp out bogus recruitment agencies."
Masidi said the formation of a data bank of all Sabah workers and their employers would facilitate monitoring of the workers' welfare.
On Sunday, the Singapore Manpower Ministry issued a statement through the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, which assured all that there was no ban on Sabah and Sarawak workers and they would continue to approve work permits for them if they are eligible.
There were earlier reports that Singapore had imposed a ruling which barred under-35 male workers from Sabah and Sarawak from working in Singapore.
The move was said to have stemmed from a number of criminal cases such as fights involving youths from Sabah and Sarawak.
Meanwhile, United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation secretary-general Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau said that the reported ban should not have happened in the first place.
"Perhaps the suggestion of such ban was an immediate reaction for political reasons... and Sabah and Sarawak ended up being the target because of some isolated incidents of fighting.
"We are happy the issue has been settled but I hope in future they should consider the good relations between Malaysia and Singapore.
"After all we are good neighbours, they could consider existing channels to resolve such matters amicably."
By KRISTY INUS