Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said the government was looking to attract more foreign investments to boost the economy and further strengthen the ringgit.
He also acknowledged that the trade war between the US and China was affecting the ringgit; however, he said the situation could be avoided if the country did not rely heavily on imports.
"For example, if we can produce (our own) vegetables, fruits, fish, livestock and so on, we do not depend on supply from other countries; so God willing, (then) we will be able to strengthen and improve our economy, and when the economy is healthy, the ringgit will strengthen.
"In the short term, we are trying to attract investments from abroad. For this, we have to work but unfortunately we cannot get employees from our own country, (so) we have to rely on foreign workers and when we depend on foreign workers, they get all the benefits," he said.
He was speaking at a press conference after a ceremony to hand over ‘Kasih Ibu Darul Aman’ (KIDA) cards to 48 recipients at the Langkawi District Civil Defence Complex (APM) in Langkawi, today.
Also present were his wife, Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, Ayer Hangat assemblyperson Juhari Bulat and Kuah assemblyperson Mohd Firdaus Ahmad.
Commenting on the issue of foreign labour, Mahathir, who is also Langkawi MP, said the government was working to reduce the dependency.
However, he added that Malaysians should help out by not being picky with job opportunities.
"We want to do away with foreign workers, but cannot, because our people are not willing to (do the) work, in restaurants they are not willing (to work), neither in the supermarkets. In terms of heavy duty work, I understand if they are not willing to do it, but even in air-conditioned restaurants, they are not willing to work.
Mahathir also expressed the government's commitment to tackling the issue by offering training to locals in order to make them more proficient.
"We will provide training so that they (locals) are more proficient; we also want them to somewhat master the English language, as investors speak in that language," he added.