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Recruiting African workers? Not practical

  • The government should consider bringing in workers from traditional source countries instead of looking so far away and taking the unnecessary risks by recruiting Africans.

Sin Chew Daily

Human resources minister Kula Segaran told the media after a dialogue with local farmers in Cameron Highlands last Friday that the government was exploring the possibility of bringing in workers from Africa.

He said this was to tackle the problem of labor shortage in the plantation sector.

The minister pointed out that minimum wages in Indonesia and Vietnam were not much lower than in Malaysia and the people there were no longer keen to come here to work.

He also said the human resources ministry had earlier received suggestions from some local businesses to bring in African workers, and his ministry was studying the feasibility of the proposal.

After the news was carried in the local press, Malaysians in generally have expressed their concern and frustration over the proposal.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Soh Thian Lai felt that it was not practical to bring in African workers, and he did not see any successful instance of introducing African workers in any Southeast Asian country.

Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) president Tan Yew Sing said social issues could arise due to vast differences in the Malaysian and African cultures.

Association of Employment Agencies Malaysia president Foo Yong Hooi, meanwhile, said it was not practical to bring in African workers due to the higher cost involved. In its stead, the government should consider lift the freeze on Bangladeshi workers.

Malaysians in general disagree with the proposal given the fact Africans have been known to involve in a number of scams, drug issues and even murders in recent years. As a result, Africans are generally avoided whenever they are spotted walking in the street or hanging around in food courts or residential estates.

In addition, the Africans' lifestyles and cultures are very much different from those of Malaysians, and their boisterous talks and free drinking habit are often frowned upon at hawker centers and late night hangouts. Some condominiums and housing estates have even issued bans to African nationals.

Although not all Africans are troublemakers, and we are not discriminating against them based on skin color, the vast cultural disparity should be an important factor to consider.

Despite the problem of labor crunch, we still have access to more traditional sources like Bangladesh and Myanmar.

At the same time, there are still plenty of undocumented migrant workers that warrant the government's attention.

The government should consider bringing in workers from traditional source countries and reintroduce the “illegal worker bleaching program” in order to relieve the pressure of acute labor shortage instead of looking so far away and taking the unnecessary risks by bringing in workers from Africa.

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