Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia has banned the hiring of new foreign workers in the manufacturing and services sectors amid fears the economic crisis will lead to more job losses for locals, reports said Thursday.
Home minister Syed Hamid Albar told the New Straits Times there was no reason to bring in foreigners after a human resources ministry report showed 45,000 people would be laid off over Lunar New Year at the end of the month.
“This is not the time for employers to ask for foreign workers. The first to be retrenched should be foreigners and not locals,” Syed Hamid told the paper. “There is no valid reason to bring in foreign workers at this time,” he added.
The government is preparing a second economic stimulus package following a $2 billion plan unveiled last November to help companies and workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the global economic downturn.
The one million foreign workers currently in the two sectors will be allowed to work until their permits expire or they are laid off, according to the Star daily.
Malaysia — one of Asia’s largest importers of labour — has an estimated 2.2 million foreign workers, who are the mainstay of the plantation and manufacturing sectors.
However, the government has become concerned about the ramifications of having such a big migrant workforce and periodically tries to reduce it.