KUALA LUMPUR: An estimated 40% of the foreign labour workforce in Malaysia is undocumented, hampering government efforts to reduce dependence on foreign workers by 2020.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem said the government had targeted to cap the percentage of foreign labour in Malaysia at 15% of the total workforce when it became a developed nation.
“Although we do not recognise these statistics, it is estimated that for every 10 documented foreign worker in Malaysia, there are seven illegal ones working here as well.
“They may have entered through sources not recognised by the government, and Malaysian employers may have taken them in through agencies that are unregistered,” he said in reply to a question by Nasrudin Hassan (PAS – Temerloh) in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday.
Riot said that according to government statistics, there were 1.9 million documented labour workers in the country.
He denied that this would spell trouble for Malaysians seeking employment in the future.
“The Government is firm in its stand that Malaysians will always be given priority in the workforce.
“As such, there is a lot of focus on training Malaysian workers so we can achieve at least 40% skilled workforce by 2020,” he said.
Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah – Kota Raja) raised the question of employers who seemingly preferred to hire foreigners because they were willing to work for lesser wages.
To this, Riot said it was undeniable that some employers have a tendency to hire foreigners who were undocumented.
“On the employment of foreign workers or locals though, there should be no discrimination in whatever form, including the salary amount.
“Therefore employers who choose foreign workers over locals because of salary amount could be taking in undocumented workers,” he said.