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Bringing Foreign Workers: Business Groups Voice Displeasure Over New Systems

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PETALING JAYA – Thirty business associations and chambers of commerce have jointly issued a strong statement against the outsourcing of services by the Home Ministry to two private companies which they say further complicates the process of bringing foreign workers to Malaysia.

The outsourcing of foreign worker permit renewals to MyEG Services Bhd and mandatory use of Bestinet Sdn Bhd’s Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS) to process the Visa with Reference (VDR) or “calling visa” for foreign workers also pushed up their costs, they said.

“We understand that both these systems are merely at the ‘proof of concept’ stage or on a trial run.

“In this regards, it is not equitable to have these systems made mandatory without the public being given the option of using the over-the-counter services previously provided by the Home Ministry,” said Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and the Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) deputy secretary-general Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok at a joint press conference representing the associations and chambers.

He said that while the businesses were supportive of migrating towards e-recruitment, the systems had to be more efficient, productive and cost-effective.

Making these new outsourced “online” pro­­­­cesses mandatory, he said, was completely unacceptable.

“What is the purpose of having the Malaysian Competition Act 2010 if the Government itself endorses such a monopolistic situation? The purpose of the Act is to ensure that such a situation does not occur,” he said.

Teo said they wanted the Human Resources Ministry to handle all human resource and foreign wor­ker issues instead of the Home Ministry.

“It is common practice in most countries that all human resource issues, including foreign worker issues, come under the purview of their respective human resource or labour ministries.

“In Malaysia, however, it is the Home Ministry which is dealing with the International Labour Organisation.

“The Home Ministry should be there to only issue visas once the approval processes are completed by the Human Resource Ministry,” he added.

Malaysia Plastics Ma­­nu­facturers Asso­cia­tion president Lim Kok Boon said there was also a lot of ambiguity in the way applications to bring in the workers was approved.

“Approval must be based on a set of known criteria that is fair, reasonable and transparent.

“Another issue is that when we apply, for example, for 200 workers, it is rejected and we are only allowed to hire 50 workers. Why 50? No reason is given,” he said.

He said employers were forced to request for a higher number of workers in the hopes that they get the actual number of workers they need.

“This is not how business should be done,” he said.

On the escalating cost of hiring foreign workers, Malaysian Asso­ciation of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) president Jeffrey Foo said the first hurdle had been the foreign workers medical screening agency (Fomema).

“We were doing medical checks at RM60 (per worker), Fomema came in and wanted RM220. We argued and it was slashed to RM180.

“After that, during the 6P amnesty exercise (targeting illegal foreign workers), a RM50 fee was imposed. Then last year, the Immigration Department’s RM50 processing fee was pushed up to RM125,” Foo said.

In a separate statement, Fede­ration of Malaysia Chinese Guilds Association (Hang Tuan) president Datuk Chai Kim Sen (pic) said the drastic increase in the visa-processing fee for Indonesian workers would result in the workers turning to other countries for employment.

“Many industries in Malaysia, especially the construction sector, will be affected due to the lack of manpower,” he said in response to The Star’s front page article yesterday on the rise in visa-processing fee for Indonesian workers from RM15 to RM250 each.

Chai, who is also MCA deputy national organising secretary, has demanded a breakdown of the new fee.

“The Government should explain in detail as to whether the hike is caused by the additional ‘service charge’ collected by the outsourcing company,” he said.

He also called for a review of the new charges and the outsourcing of visa-processing services to private companies.

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