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Malaysia freezes practice of hiring foreign workers

Malaysia on Friday froze recruitment of foreign workers until it ascertains the workforce needs of the industries in the country, a day after it made a deal with Bangladesh for hiring 1.5 million workers which drew criticism from local trade unions. The freeze on hiring foreign workers would be enforced with immediate effect and will stay in force while the government reviews the two-tier levy programme for foreign labourers, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said.

Mohamed, who is also the Home Minister, said the recruitment of foreign workers will resume once the government evaluates the current pool of foreign workers in the country. “We are now focusing on the programme to review the need for foreign workers. We will look at their total numbers and then assess the new foreign workers,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

He said that there was no fixed timeline for the recruitment freeze. “We’ll take the time we need to conduct the review,” he said. The announcement came a day after Malaysia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh to bring in 1.5 million workers from the country over the next three years.

The minister said the MoU with Bangladesh could be implemented anytime in the next three years. “Therefore, even if we don’t implement it next year, it does not matter,” he said. The Malaysian government was facing resistance and criticism from several civil and trade groups over its move to bring in the foreign workers in significant numbers.
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