Malaysia should not be overly dependent on foreign workers as it is not healthy for the countryâ€™s economy.
National Professors Council secretary-general Prof Datuk Dr Raduan Che Rose said although the country needed foreign workers, especially in critical sectors such as construction and agriculture, it should only be to a certain extent, as the nation had qualified and skilled workers.
â€œIt is evident that foreign workers are involved in almost every economic sector in the country.
â€œIt is not healthy for the countryâ€™s economy if we are overly dependent on them.
â€œWe have a supply of workers who just need to be given the drive and opportunities,â€ he said after the conference on â€œNational Dilemma: Issues and Challenges Relating to Foreign Workers in Malaysiaâ€ in Jalan Ampang here yesterday.
The two-day conference, which ends today, will culminate in the drafting of a resolution on ways to handle foreign workers, which will be presented to the Home Ministry.
Among the suggestions are to review the policy of employing foreign workers, finding ways to absorb refugees into the workforce, establishing an entry-departure and immigrant database, and establishing an International Migration Faculty at a local university.
Raduan said in the case of the departure of more than 100,000 foreign workers in the construction sector by end of next month under the governmentâ€™s 6P amnesty programme, the vacancies should be filled by locals instead.
â€œA training system or mechanism should be introduced to develop local talent in sectors, such as construction, manufacturing, services and agriculture.
â€œThese sectors employ a large number of foreign workers, but why must we neglect the local workforce?
â€œAlternative measures, such as a training system, are necessary to reduce our dependence on foreign workers,â€ he told the New Straits Times.
Raduan, who is also the councilâ€™s chief executive officer, added that measures to reduce the number of foreign workers could be carried out only when the government knew the exact number of foreign workers that the country needed.
â€œThe nationâ€™s economy should not be too labour intensive or we would always need foreign workers.
â€œWe have to make strides in technological innovation to shift our dependence.
â€œIt is an insult to our country, that supposedly aims to be a modern and developed nation, but fails to manage an issue like this,â€ he said.
Prof Dr Azizah Kassim of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said the influx of foreign workers into the country was also because of weaknesses in the policy of employing foreign workers, adding that the policy should be reviewed.
She said the governmentâ€™s amnesty programmes had inadvertently encouraged foreigners to enter the country illegally, as they would eventually get a reprieve and be deported.-NST