Over 24,000 foreign workers to return by April, says Saravanan

The recent delays in recruiting foreign workers were due to the streamlining of permit applications, says minister 


A TOTAL of 179,451 applications to hire foreign workers in five sectors will be processed and approved within six weeks, according to Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan. 

He said of the total, 24,560 applications will complete the interview stage on April 27 while 154,891 applications will be approved in the period of six weeks. 

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“We have received a total of 519,937 applications across all sectors as of April 7. There are 290,937 applications that were not sent. As such, we are contacting them manually and sorting it out. 

“About 40,000 applications were rejected immediately for several reasons, such as incomplete forms and not following guidelines,” he said in a press conference at the Human Resource Development Corp office yesterday. 

The process of hiring foreign workers is now fully done online. 

He said permits approval for foreign workers comes under Foreign Workers Centralised Management System portal, which processes and manages all permit applications. 

“All permit applications will not only go through the Human Resources Ministry but also to the Home Ministry, as well as other relevant authorities and agencies.

“For example, the Ministry of Works will be notified of all foreign workers in the construction sector,” the minister explained.

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Saravanan said the recent delays in recruiting foreign workers were due to the streamlining of permit applications under an online portal and the opening of more job opportunities for locals.

He emphasised that his ministry prioritised Malaysians for vacant jobs before hiring foreign workers. 

“This is why the delays have occurred due to the implementation of these new systems and procedures for procuring foreign workers,” he said. 

Saravanan said despite various efforts by his ministry, locals were not keen on taking up the jobs, which caused worker shortages in the industry.

“The industries were upset when we did not allow foreign workers to come in and it was unfair to them as they continued to suffer losses. 

“The plantation industry alone suffered losses of RM20 billion but now we are moving forward and pushing for automation. 

“There are no takers for the dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs among locals,” he added. 

Saravanan assured the shortages of manpower in sectors such as construction, plantations, manufacturing, agriculture and services would be fulfilled moving forward. 

He noted there were 1.7 million foreign workers in the country before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.