The Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the government is extending the freeze on new applications for foreign workers.
This was as the existing approved quota, coupled with foreign workers to be legalised under a recalibration programme that ended last year, would be enough to fulfil the local demand for foreign labour, he said at a press conference here.
The tenure of the extension of the quota freeze will be announced later, he said.
The Workforce Recalibration Programme (WRP) saw 518,000 foreign workers registered in its second round through 2023, and 418,649 workers in WRP 1.0 from November 2020 to December 2022, based on government data.
Employers, meanwhile, have been given three months until the end of March to complete the legalisation process of their foreign employees under the programme.
Based on the 12th Malaysia Plan, the number of required foreign workers in Malaysia is set at 2.4 million by 2025. A balance quota of 400,000 foreign workers has yet to be filled, according to ministry data.
One-stop centre to be set up to slash future application timeframe
Separately, Saifuddin said the Cabinet has also agreed for a one-stop centre for foreign labour application to be formed as an agency under the Home Ministry.
“Once the quota application is reopened, the one-stop centre will be able to accelerate the application process from 29 months and 13 days, to just 15 months and seven days. This is our commitment, taking into consideration the entire process that one needs to go through,” he said.
On a related matter, Saifuddin said the Cabinet has also agreed for Malaysia to initiate talks with foreign labour source countries, to review memoranda of understanding (MOUs) signed with said countries in relation with foreign labour supply into Malaysia.
Of the 15 foreign labour source countries, three countries are prioritised for the discussions, namely Indonesia, Nepal, and Bangladesh, which collectively provide 77% of Malaysia’s foreign labour supply, he said.
“Now we are driven by four things. We want to speed up the process. We want to reduce migrant costs. We want to focus on the aspect of ensuring worker welfare, and protect employers’ interests.
“Based on these four principles, we will review the MOUs which we have signed, whether the terms can help achieve the four objectives. That is the purpose of the discussion,” he said. – the Edge Malaysia