KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, especially its DAP leaders, should be held accountable for the acute labour shortage the country currently faces.
During an interview with several media outlets yesterday, Saravanan said the PH government had imposed a moratorium on the intake of foreign workers from Bangladesh in September 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic had even begun.
"During PH’s administration, not a single memorandum of understanding (MoU) was renewed even though the one with Bangladesh had lapsed during their time. It should not take 22 months to renew any MoU,” the Tapah MP was quoted as saying in online portal The Vibes.
All relevant MoUs with source countries have since been resolved and the issuance of quotas from pertinent agencies and stakeholders has been expedited since April this year when borders were reopened, he added.
"I don’t see any big players like Sime Darby or FGV making any complaints. They have not made any complaints about not receiving any quotas at all,” he was quoted as saying in response to recent criticism from DAP national chairman Lim Guan Eng.
The pair have challenged each other to step down from their respective posts after Saravanan dared Lim to resign if the former can prove himself blameless in the labour crisis.
Saravanan reportedly set October 5 as Lim’s deadline to provide evidence showing how the former had failed to respond to the manpower shortage.
Besides that, he reportedly explained that his role involves approving quotas for foreign workers and looking after their welfare once they step foot in the country, but that anything else in between did not fall under his purview.
"My job ends after the approval of the quota. After that, my job starts again when the workers come in (to the country), to look after their welfare,” he was quoted saying.
He said that Lim did not understand the role of the human resources minister as evidenced by the latter’s calls for his resignation if he can find flaws in the former’s management of the issue.
Saravanan reportedly went on to explain that it was impractical to expect foreign workers to enter the country within a span of months as the issue also depended on logistical matters such as the daily number of flights into Malaysia from the countries involved.
Previously, Lim said that his criticism of Saravanan was based on remarks made by the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA), which estimated that only 47,000 foreign workers have been recruited since January this year for all sectors, a mere 12 per cent of the 385,000 applications approved by Saravanan since the year began.