The large number of legal foreign workers here has no effect on Malaysia's workforce, the Human Resources Ministry said.
Deputy HR minister, Senator Maznah Mazlan, said that 1.403 million foreigners here held the Temporary Employment Visit Pass, contributing to 11.2% of Malaysia’s total workforce.
“Most of these foreign workers can be found in jobs that are not preferred by locals, which are designated as 3D: ‘dirty, dangerous and difficult’…such as manufacturing, construction, plantation [duties] and agriculture,” she told the Dewan Rakyat.
She added that despite this number, Malaysia had an unemployment rate of 2.7%, a figure confirmed by the Department of Statistics as of August this year.
Maznah was responding to a question raised by Umno-Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman who asked if foreign workers here caused Malaysians to be unemployed.
To this, Umno-Kalabakan MP Abdul Ghapur Salleh told Maznah that he did not agree with her explanation. He asked why foreigners were in jobs that did not come under the 3D-job-designation where locals could fill the places.
“There are places that don’t have problems for locals, like selling fruits in a supermarket. You see Bangladeshis here,” he said.
Abdul also asked if the approval of foreign workers could be centralised under a single government department, and worried that this area was already being handled by too many ministries.
Currently, the influx of foreign workers is reviewed by a Cabinet Committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Applications to employ foreign workers also have to be sent to the Home Affairs Ministry.
Agreeing with Abdul Ghapur that foreigners should not be working in 3D-jobs, Maznah told the former to make a report at the Human Resources Ministry.
He replied: “I prefer to report to you here, right now.” To this, Maznah promised to follow up on the matter.
On having only one agency, Maznah said that such a matter required a policy change.
However, she said that a One-Stop-Centre was formed at the Home Ministry to deal with foreign workers, which included members of various relevant government departments, including the Human Resources Ministry.