Work permit extended for 300,000 under 6P programme

This is written by my colleague Zafira Anwar.

PUTRAJAYA: The government has agreed to extend the temporary work permits for more than 300,000 foreign workers, registered under the 6P programme, for a year with immediate effect.

Home Ministry acting secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim said the decision came after the government had weighed what the impact of a sudden decrease in the workforce would have on the economy and to give time to employers to find replacement workers.

“The government realises that the loss of workforce in a large number will cause a sudden and major impact on businesses and the economy.

“Hence, the cabinet has agreed to the one-year extension, allowing employers who have yet to send their foreign workers to their home countries to prepare for their replacements.” 

He said this after attending a meeting between Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Indonesian Manpower Minister Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri here yesterday.

He said the extension applied only to those who had their temporary work permits under the 6P programme and were legally employed. “This extension is effective immediately."

Any employer who intends to continue employing foreign workers during the extension period may apply for the renewal of the temporary work permit at Immigration offices nationwide.” Alwi reminded employers to send workers back to their countries at the end of next year.

He said based on the Immigration Department’s records, 352,493 foreign workers, registered under the 6P programme, would complete their term as stipulated in the programme at the end of this year or next month.

On Monday, Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, in appealing to the government to extend the temporary work permits, had cautioned that failure to do so would lead to the recruitment of unskilled workers to replace them.

This, Shamsuddin said, would cause severe manpower shortages in key industries and would affect the country’s economic growth.

He was also quoted in a report on Wednesday as saying that employers might need to spend RM2.5 billion to recruit new foreign workers to replace those sent home under the 6P programme. 

In August 2011, the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers implemented the 6P programme to reduce the number of immigrants who entered the country illegally or who had overstayed their work permits.

Under the Registration, Legalisation, Amnesty, Supervision, Enforcement and Deportation programme (abbreviated in Bahasa Malaysia to 6P), illegal foreign workers were required to register with the Home Ministry and have their fingerprints recorded in a biometric system.

Under the 6P programme, foreigners in the service sector were issued temporary work visiting passes lasting two years, while those working in manufacturing, construction and plantations received three years.

The cabinet’s decision for the extension came two days after the government insisted that foreign workers must return to their home countries next month and observe the compulsory six-month cooling-off period before returning to Malaysia.

Immigration Department deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Sakib Kusmi was quoted as saying that those with temporary work visit passes under the 6P programme must honour the understanding agreed upon in 2011.

He also said employers should have taken proactive measures to prepare for the “exodus” of their workers, as they were aware of the situation since 2011.

Sakib said the government did not want the foreigners to remain in Malaysia continuously for more than five years, as they could then request for permanent resident status.

‘Locals not willing to do 3D jobs’

PUTRAJAYA: The majority of locals are not interested in working in an environment that is either dirty, difficult or dangerous, forcing employers to hire foreign workers instead.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said because of this, such jobs, also known as the three Ds (3Ds), were taken up by foreigners.

“The most locals will work in these ‘3D industries’ is three months. Some work for a month, a week or even a day (before quitting). I am not siding with the foreigners, but this is the truth,” he said after receiving a courtesy call from Indonesian Manpower Minister Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri at his office here yesterday.

Malaysia's Home Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi met up with Indonesian Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri at Putrajaya yesterday.
Also present at the bilateral meeting yesterday was Home Ministry’s acting secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim.

Zahid said employers could not be entirely blamed for hiring foreigners, as locals were reluctant to work in “3D industries”.

“Sometimes, I sympathise with the employers for facing difficulties in securing local workers,” he said, adding that although priority for employment must be given to locals, most employers did not have much choice, and were forced to hire foreigners.

However, said Zahid, employers must adhere to the ministry’s guidelines, failing which would result in the workforce being flooded with illegal foreign workers brought in by rogue agents.

“These irresponsible agents would charge employers extra, claiming that it was for obtaining the required documents. (However), these rogue agents did not register with the authorities. This is why there are still a lot of illegal foreign workers,” he said, adding that Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s efforts, through his Manpower Ministry to legalise its workers here, must be commended.

On a separate matter, Zahid said the ministry was in the midst of getting banks from both nations to work together to allow Indonesian workers to open up accounts using I-cards to prevent them from being cheated out of their salaries by their employers.

“This is to ensure that the workers’ welfare is taken care of. They would have proof whether their employers had paid their monthly salary. Having a bank account will also expedite remittance, as they can just wire the money online,” said Zahid.

With Indonesians making up close to 40 per cent of foreigners working in the country, Zahid said there was a need for the country to continue using foreign labour. “The plantation, construction and service sectors may collapse if they do not have foreign workers.”