New expatriate hiring process to discourage FDIs

Please facilitate rather than frustrate the foreign investors if we value and welcome them

pic by TMR FILE

I REFER to the new procedures for hiring of expatriates and foreign workers as announced by the human resources minister on Oct 26, 2020; and which comes into effect on Nov 1, 2020.

The new regulations make it mandatory for all applications (new and renewal) of expatriate work permits to first be advertised for 30 days at the MYFutureJobs run by the Social Security Organisation. Subsequently, only if no Malaysians are qualified can the expatriates be employed.

Although the intent of the new regulations may be noble and rational in the current scenario, where many of our people are unemployed, it is likely to backfire and have a negative effect on our foreign direct investment (FDI). Consequently, we will see a decrease, if not complete absence, of new FDIs.

Worse still, the multinational corporations (MNCs), who are already here in our country, will contemplate withdrawing their investments and relocate to other developing nations.

As it is, we are facing very stiff competition from other South-East Asian nations like Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Laos. Additionally, China and India are also our fierce competitors.

It is fine and reasonable to introduce the new regulations for recruitment of foreign workers, but it is a non-starter and a no-no for expatriate recruitment.

MNCs invest billions of dollars to establish their businesses in Malaysia and it is only fair and reasonable that the government does not meddle in their business. The expatriate staff they bring in are to make sure that their investments and interests are well taken care of.

The government needs to be reminded that when the foreign investors decided to invest in Malaysia, one of the many tacit understanding and guarantee that the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida) accorded to them was that they will be able to bring in their expertise via what is known as key posts.

The new regulations that come into effect on Nov 1, 2020, will tantamount going back on our words and breaking the promise that was given to the foreign investors. Thus, creating a trust deficit.

Japanese MNCs are the leading investors in Malaysia and they bring in their own expatriates from Japan who are highly competent and technically skilled to assume some of the top and key positions in the company.

The other reason for this is that most of their products are re-exported to their customers in Japan and elsewhere in the world. Thus, not only job competency and technical skills are paramount, cultural and language competencies are also critical.

Mida has 21 oversea offices covering Asia, Europe, the US, Middle East and Australia to promote inward manufacturing and services investments into Malaysia. And Malaysia is spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually in maintaining these offices. Thus, it will be a disservice to Mida and all its efforts if the government introduces new regulations without first considering the negative result.

Realising the importance of the FDIs, the previous Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, who was the then secretary general of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, had established and set up an Immigration Unit at Mida to facilitate the smooth administration and issuance of expatriate and dependent visa.

Even that is being dismantled now when the government, effective Sept 1, 2020, introduced a new regulation that requires all expatriate work permits issuance and renewals to be directed to MyExpat. No one knows the real intention of this move, but more money needs to be spent in processing fees and the process is tedious, inefficient and cumbersome.

Ironically, all the top positions of foregoing Mida offices are staffed by Malaysian expatriates just like Petroliam Nasional Bhd, our foreign missions and other Malaysian MNCs abroad. What if those countries too insist on new regulations that will require our expatriates to undergo the same treatment as we intend to introduce?

Please engage and collaborate with the foreign chambers of commerce like The Japanese Chambers for Trade in Malaysia, The American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders before making unilateral decisions which will be akin to shooting one’s own foot.

And if the government still insists on going ahead with the plans to introduce the new regulations, then let us close down Mida and all its offices worldwide, which will save us billions and billions of ringgit which is much needed now to save our beloved country from Covid-19, and many other ills that we have self-inflicted on ourselves.

Please facilitate rather than frustrate the foreign investors if we value and welcome them.

Roslan Sharif
Kuala Krai, Kelantan

The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.