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LETTER | Do something about our labour shortage

LETTER | When Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim’s motion to debate the position of Malaysia in the recently-released 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report was rejected by the speaker of Dewan Rakyat a few days ago, I was at a loss for words.

His excuse is simply unacceptable. How can a matter of grave importance like this be denied from being debated?

Malaysia remains in Tier 3 for a second consecutive year.

Tier 3 means the country has failed to comply with minimum standards and also failed to make significant efforts to comply. 

Malaysia has joined countries like Iran, Syria and North Korea to be listed in Tier 3 – definitely not something we can be proud of. 

Victims of human trafficking are known to fall into forced labour, prostitution, restrictions of movement, contract violation, wage fraud, assault, threats of deportation, the imposition of significant debts, and passport retention. 

Being listed in Tier 3 costs our already-sluggish economy in many ways.

Uncollected palm fruits

Last week, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin was reported to say that the national palm oil industry suffered a whopping loss of RM10.46 million in just five months of this year.

This is because of uncollected palm fruits as a result of labour shortage.

It is also bad that our palm oil industry is heavily dependent on foreign labour. To be more specific, 75 percent of the workforce in our palm oil industry is composed of foreign labour. 

To make the matter worse, Indonesia has decided to place a temporary freeze on sending its citizens to work in Malaysia. 

The palm oil industry and manufacturing industry in Malaysia rely a lot on foreign workers, especially from Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Nepal, so even a temporary freeze can translate into potentially millions in ringgit of losses in productivity and potential earnings. 

It is time that our authorities address the actual issues, especially the ones specifically mentioned in the report.

We are already at a disadvantage from the United States’ import bans of our palm oil and glove due to allegations of forced labour.

Our authorities’ indifference toward finding real solutions will only slow down our economic recovery.

Take the first step by debating this motion in Parliament.

We should truly find an end to this problem now. 

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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