KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — Opposition lawmaker Lim Guan Eng today urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to step up and take direct charge of bilateral talks with Indonesia to resolve the country’s worker shortage.
The Bagan MP said the prime minister’s personal intervention could immediately convince Jakarta to lift the suspension on sending its citizens here to fill the job vacancies across all sectors that have been heavily reliant on migrant labour and spur Malaysia’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
“Prime Minister Ismail Sabri should personally intervene in the fiasco leading to the freezing of foreign workers from Indonesia both to repair relations with Indonesia and provide economic growth to counter the global economic downturn expected by the end of the year,” Lim said in a statement.
The former finance minister noted that many domestic businesses have been forced to scale down their operations or reject new orders due to the severe lack of manpower, on top of dealing with inflation and increasing costs made worse by the depreciating ringgit.
“Never has the situation been so bad before. Due to the 1.2 million worker shortage, the plantation and glove industry alone are facing losses of RM21 billion and the damage could run to tens of billions of ringgit more if other sectors are included,” Lim pointed out.
The DAP national chairman urged the prime minister to stop delegating the job to the Human Resources Ministry and the Home Ministry for an immediate resolution.
He accused both ministries of inefficiency and incompetence in implementing the memorandum of understanding with Indonesia on recruiting its workers that was signed just three months ago.
“Ismail should stop delegating the problem but take charge when the nation’s economy, business community and rakyat wants an immediate solution,” Lim said.
Indonesian ambassador Hermono to Malaysia said his country is refusing to send its citizens to work here effective July 12.
He accused Putrajaya of reneging on the recruitment deal to stop using the controversial Maid Online System for the hiring process.
The labour memorandum of understanding was signed in Jakarta last March and witnessed by Indonesian president Joko Widodo and Ismail Sabri.