The manifestos of Pakatan Harapan (PH), Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Barisan Nasional (BN) that were recently launched in conjunction with the 15th General Election (GE15) do not clearly mention the intention to reduce the country’s serious dependence on foreign workers.
This situation was completely different when BN and PH launched their respective manifestos during the 14th General Election (GE14) in 2018. PH’s manifesto at that time promised to reduce two million foreign workers to overcome the dumping of these groups in the country.
In the manifesto, PH also promised to introduce policies and regulations so that local workers are prioritized by employers. The number of foreign workers will be gradually reduced and PH ministers will be prohibited from giving letters of support to hire foreign workers.
BN’s manifesto in GE14 also committed to provide an extensive employment sector for local workers through efforts to reduce the dependency of foreign workers to 15 percent of the total workforce in the country.
BN also promised to create three million job opportunities within five years. At the same time, BN promised that the interests and welfare of workers will also be taken care of by aiming to increase the minimum wage to RM1,500 per month.
It is admitted that the need for foreign workers is due to the current situation being quite different due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit the country since 2020. It has caused the closure of national borders which has seen many foreign workers return to foreign countries and new workers cannot be brought in.
This situation has an impact on the plantation, construction and industrial sectors as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (PMKS) which have been too dependent on foreign workers to recover post-pandemic.
However, the party that intends to take over the administration of the country for the next five years should be aware that the dependence on foreign workers affects the country’s competitiveness to achieve the status of a high-income developed country.
A labor-intensive economy is only suitable for Indonesia and Vietnam, which have a population many times larger than Malaysia.
In addition to affecting the wage rate which is difficult to increase in line with the current cost of living, the influx of foreign workers including those who refuse to return to their country of origin but instead remain in Malaysia as illegal aliens (PATI) affects the people of this country in terms of competition for opportunities work, business, residence and others.
Although the manifesto is not a holy book and the party that wins the election is not bound to implement it, at least it can be a guide in setting the country’s new policy for the next five years, especially in the aspect of managing foreign workers that better ensure the fate of local workers. – MESSENGER
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