Guan Eng calls for HR minister to step down over ‘broken promises’ to plug Malaysia’s labour shortage

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — DAP national chairman Lim Guan Eng has urged Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan to relinquish his ministerial portfolio after only 12 per cent of foreign workers successfully entered Malaysia to help plug labour shortages.

The Bagan MP said that the country’s palm oil industry is suffering due to the lack of manpower as 80 per cent of its workforce depends on foreign workers.

“The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) estimates that only 47,000 foreign workers have entered Malaysia or 12 per cent of the 385,000 approvals since January 2022 for foreign workers approved for companies in all industry sectors.

“Foreign workers, mainly from Indonesia and Bangladesh, make up about 80 per cent of the workforce on Malaysian estates.

“As a result, palm oil output in Malaysia, the world’s second largest producer, is forecast to decline from 18.1 million metric tonnes last year when production should have increased, a terrible loss due to the current government’s failure,” he said in a statement today.

Lim said that Saravanan’s failure to fulfil his promise to complete the initial application to hire about 400,000 foreign workers by August showed that the minister had failed to overcome Malaysia’s shortage of 1.2 million workers.

“The severe worker shortage has incurred losses of RM33.5 billion to the plantation sector, glove and auto spare parts industry alone. Other industries will also record losses of tens of billions of ringgit.

“When are the hundreds of thousands foreign workers promised coming into the country? Such an egregious blunder will adversely impact the investment climate in the country,” he added.

Lim also addressed the labour shortage in Indian Muslim restaurants after the Muslim Restaurant Entrepreneurs Association of Malaysia (Presma) claimed that 1,500 restaurants are expected to close nationwide due to a shortage of 30,000 workers.

“This could only be filled by of foreign workers due to the difficulty in sourcing local workers. Three thousand ‘mamak’ restaurants have already closed,” Lim added in the same statement.

Last week, news agency Reuters reported that Malaysian palm oil planters are letting thousands of tonnes of fruits rot as the third year of a worker shortage has left companies unable to increase their harvesting during the peak production season.

Palm oil output in Malaysia, the world’s second-largest producer, is forecast to decline, or at best remain unchanged, from last year’s 18.1 million tonnes, according to planters and analysts.