KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 ― The Malaysian dream of becoming a high-income nation will not be realised through the employment of cheap foreign labour as it is unsustainable in the long term, the Centre For A Better Tomorrow (CENBET) cautioned Putrajaya today.
Instead, the government should come up with a new human resource plan to cut employers “addiction” to hiring unskilled foreigners, the pro-moderation and good governance advocacy group's president Gan Ping Sieu said in a statement.
“In the long-run, the country needs a human resource masterplan to reduce our addiction to cheap unskilled labour. They could be in the form of increasing productivity, promoting automation, changing our ways of life or encouraging those who are retired or having spare time to go back to full or part-time employments.
“Our quest to become a high-income nation should not be done through cheap foreign labour, which is not sustainable in the long-run,” he said.
Gan also warned the government that the influx of foreign workers in the country would raise more socio-economic problems detrimental to Malaysians, including seeing non-citizens enjoying subsidies provided by taxpayers.
“The government also needs to factor in costs like subsidies on food and transport which an increased pool of foreign workers would be able to enjoy, but to be borne by taxpayers.
“We must refrain from taking the easy way out by perpetually increasing foreign unskilled workers but yet lament about the presence of massive number of foreigners in the workforce with social- economic impacts that we would rather do without,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on Sunday challenged local youths to take over the 3D jobs to reduce the country's dependence on foreign workers, who were dominating the plantation industry, manufacturing, construction, and cleaning service sectors.
His call was echoed by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who also claimed that youths here were disinterested in those sectors, resulting in employers turning towards foreign workers.
In response to the proposal, Gan urged the government to be more transparent to avoid confusion.
“The absence of such explanations naturally arouses public suspicion and uneasiness. Providing the statistics on how many workers each sector needs could help to put our human resource issue in the right context and perspective, thus enabling a rational and healthy debate over related issues,” he said.