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MP SPEAKS | Multitude of weaknesses in Saravanan's ministry

MP SPEAKS | Human Resources Minister M Saravanan is like an ostrich with his head in the sand, in delusion or he may be thinking that if he bravely speaks a lie people will believe him when he challenged Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng that he will resign if the latter can find flaws in his ministry’s effort to overcome the acute shortage of workers.

This is not the first time Saravanan put up a brave front when he told a lie.

On July 26, he told Parliament that the application for foreign workers can be done online without having to go through an agent and I told him that it was a big lie. He then challenged me to prove that he was lying.

I subsequently showed him it was impossible for employers to get the approval of foreign workers due to the various obstacles at the Human Resources Ministry and the Home Ministry without the help of an agent who has internal contacts in the ministries and that some people in his ministry were collecting RM1,500 per foreign worker before an interview is granted to an employer applying for the quota to employ foreign workers.

In response, Saravanan immediately decided that interviews can be conducted in each respective state and not solely at Human Resources Ministry in Putrajaya and that it will conduct walk-in interviews rather than the ministry fixing the interviews.

Not long thereafter, 10 people were arrested by the MACC related to corruption the in the Human Resources Ministry.

The problems are far from over and it is still very difficult to get approval for the foreign workers’ quota.

Reasons Saravanan should resign

The following 11 and many more are reasons why Saravanan should resign as promised.

(i) It still takes months for the application for foreign workers quota to be processed not unlike the situation before the recent changes made by him. Is there an unspoken intention that the long process will ensure that employers are forced to give bribes again?

For the past few years, it took so long for an application to be processed and it was almost impossible to get an application approved without using an agent who has the ministry’s internal contact. However, if you use an agent with additional payment, the approval could be obtained quickly.

(ii) Applications are rejected arbitrarily stating reasons that are untrue. For example, an application is rejected on the ground that the applicant has not advertised at JobStreet when this has been done or that the applicant is not entitled to apply for more workers when the Human Resources Ministry’s guidelines state that the employer is entitled to more workers.

(iii) Conducting mandatory interviews which are totally unnecessary as the Human Resources Ministry does not ask for any additional information during the interview which is not contained in the application or the supporting documents that were enclosed with the application.

(iv) An employer cannot proceed with the application through the Foreign Workers Centralised Management System (FWCMS) website when it states that the employer’s data needs to be updated. In order to update the data, the applicant has to go personally to the Home Ministry and Human Resources Ministry which are in Putrajaya. Why can’t the updating of data be done through the FWCMS website?

(v) After the interview is conducted, no time is specified when the levy payment slip will be issued. Employers are left in the dark.

(vi) After levy payment is made, the payment receipt and the letter of approval printed out from the computer have to be brought all the way to the Human Resources Ministry in Putrajaya to be stamped and certified as original copies.

Whether the receipt and the approval letter are genuine should be verified from the system and not use a rubber stamp which can be easily forged.

(vii) FWCMS is not linked to e-PLKS of the Home Ministry. Why can’t it be linked? The employer has to open a separate account with the Home Ministry for the e-PLKS.

(viii) Employer has to be present physically at the Home Ministry at Putrajaya to apply for the e-PLKS account. Why can’t it be applied online or at the immigration offices nationwide?

(ix) It has been informed that the application for e-PLKS has been shifted from the Putrajaya immigration office to the Kuala Lumpur immigration office. However, the Kuala Lumpur immigration office is not ready to receive applications.

(x) Current walk-in interview caused many people to queue up even at 4am when the office opens only at 8am. On Aug 29, it was reported that more than 1,000 employers turned up for the required interview but many were turned away as the ministry could only process about 300 applications.

Imagine the disappointment of the employers who came from very far away and have waited since early morning only to be turned away. Why can’t Human Resources Ministry arrange a systematic method for the employers to turn up for the interview? As stated earlier, this interview is totally unnecessary and should be scrapped.

(xi) Multiple changes in the application process both at the Human Resources Ministry and the Home Ministry caused the employers to be at a loss on how to apply for the quota for foreign workers.

The minister is not important, the nation is important. Due to the failure of the Human Resources minister and the government in handling the acute shortage of labour, it is estimated that our nation suffers about RM100 billion in losses every year.

As Saravanan is totally incompetent to manage his ministry, he should gracefully resign as promised.

NGEH KOO HAM is Beruas MP and DAP MPs' spokesperson on law and Parliament.

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

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