Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has said that the Malaysian government is considering issuing temporary work permits to undocumented foreign workers in the country in a bid to overcome the shortage of foreign workers in the oil palm and rubber industries.
The Malaysian PM also said the government has been seeking ways to solve the shortage of foreign workers in these two sectors after Malaysia closed its borders to curb the spread of Covid-19, reports Malaysian National News Agency Bernama.
The proposal is to give one- or two-year work permits, the PM said at a meeting today with the Chinese community and Chinese non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Pagoh of Muar district in Johor, Malaysia.
"Give them a temporary licence or work permit, like what we call an amnesty or legalisation programme. This is what we are mulling," Muhyiddin Yassin said.
Muhyiddin, also the Member of Parliament from Pagoh, was replying to a query from Er Yu Peng, chairman of Bukit Pasir Tiong Hua Association, on the government's efforts to help residents involved in the oil palm sector in Pagoh as they are now facing a shortage of workers due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Muhyiddin also said this proposal would be explained further by Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin and Human Resources Minister M Saravanan later to avoid misunderstanding.
The Malaysian prime minister said he did not want to give the wrong impression to syndicates that they could bring in illegal workers in future because Malaysians were "nice people".
"You [illegal foreign workers] stay there one year and can get a work permit. This [perception] is wrong," he added.
Muhyiddin also said the shortage of workers in the oil palm and rubber sectors affected many parties and the issue has been frequently raised at his meetings with the local people, including community associations, according to the Bernama report.
"That's why we will study the situation. If possible, we will try to implement it," he added.