Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the increase in the foreign worker's levy should be seen as a positive move to reduce dependence on foreign workers.
He said Malaysia as a nation heading towards developed status by 2020 should be prepared to be self-reliant with local manpower and to minimise dependence on foreign workers when celebrating the 100th independence anniversary in 2057.
"We must be aware that we cannot be depending on foreign workers forever. We have to give opportunities to locals even though the work involved the 3D aspects (difficult, dirty and dangerous).
“But the long-term measures should be carried out by employers to give priority to locals.
“Training schemes should be established by the Human Resources Ministry, Education and Higher Education Ministries, manufacturer associations and employers to carry out semi-skilled and skilled training for local workers.
“Automation is also another option in the long run," he said.
He was speaking to reporters in Beijing today on the protests by various parties including manufacturer and contractor associations on foreign worker levy hike.
"We should learn from the developed Eastern countries such as Japan, South Korea and even China which do not depend on foreign workers," he said.
Zahid said the government was still listening to dissatisfactions raised by several parties even though the new levy became effective on Feb 1.
"Despite the implementation of the levy on Feb 1, there is still room for the government to study what were raised as we are not afraid of reviewing the implementation," he said.
Zahid had announced that effective Feb 1, the foreign worker's levy for the manufacturing and construction sectors had been raised two-fold to between RM1,250 and RM2,500.
The levy on foreign workers in the service sector would also follow the new rate compared with RM1,850 charged earlier while foreign workers in the plantation and agriculture sectors needed to pay RM1,500.
However, the restructuring did not involve levy on domestic maids which remained at RM410.