Malaysia must review its foreign workers levy concept

Review foreign workers levy concept

My Comment: The basic concept of levy is to charge the employer to pay for deciding to employ the foreigners without using the service of the locals. In that way it is more expensive for the employers to engage the foreign workers.

So if there is any locals ready to perform those jobs employed by foreigners, as the employing locals are cheaper than foreigners, the levy may automatically force the employers to opt for cheaper locals.

Foreign workers have to forked out from their pocket or even if the employer agreed to pay in full or 50% of the levies, agent fees and under-table fees to pay to the relevant authorities, all is deducted monthly from the poor foreign workers.

But nowadays in Malaysia, this concept is totally out.

Bosses are exploiting the foreign workers with the help of agents. They don’t pay any fees for getting the work permit for their workers. They pay less salary, forced regularly to do overtime and holidays. They even charged their workers for the over crowded lowstanderd sleeping (definitely not for human dwelling) places. Some even forced to eat from their factory kitchen (obviously charge for this service) so that the workers could not waste time for lunch hour.) Although they pay a dozen of Ringgit daily, they would deduct RM 100.00 per day, even the workers are ill and got MC. What kind of SHIT they are exploiting. The authorities never care and Embassies esp. Myanmar never complaint. Those dare to complaint have to face the LOCAL THUGS employed by factory authorities. And they would be deported back.

Bravo! Good job done, Nike Company. The parent Nike company had rightly enforce the regulation so that all its franchised factories bear all the costs of the foreign worker recruitment.

Please read the original news by By Tony Thien on Aug 4,08 in Malayisakini _



A leading Sabah-based NGO leader wants the government to review the whole concept of the levy vis-a-vis illegal and legal foreign workers.

According to him, money is not the only way to resolve the problem of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

“Yes, all foreigners should be properly registered, regularised and monitored for the well-being of the people, including the workers themselves,” said Consumer Association of Sabah and FT Labuan (Cash) deputy president Joshua Kong in a statement to Malaysiakini today.

However, he said, the levy and the associated costs (registration and document costs) of employing foreigners to work in Malaysia is very costly.

The other aspect is how is the money raised through such levy being utilised.

Kong said this as Malaysian authorities launched what the government described as a massive exercise to track down illegal immigrants in Sabah.

“The moral question here is that if illegal affairs can be bought with some money, it only goes to show that rampant official corruption is also acceptable hence I call this the Government’s Rampant Excessive Exploitation and Destruction (Greed).”

The levy is not only adding costs to the consumers but it is unsustainable for small and surviving businesses and factories.

The outspoken NGO leader, who is an accountant by training, said the government needs to consider incentives for the locals to make the extra effort to be employed in such sectors dominated by foreigners.

“I think it is indeed short term thinking for a long term solution as the total costs of local workers versus foreign workers may come out to be the same and that is when we are talking of building a nation with our own people rather than relying on foreigners,” he said.

Kong had presented a paper at a forum on illegal foreign workers organised by the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah in Kota Kinabalu on Aug 2, the day the massive operation to track illegal foreigners in Sabah started.

‘Dubai of the East’

On the suggestion that Sabah be transformed into ‘the Dubai of the East’ as far as foreigners in the work force is concerned, Kong said one should know first how Dubai handles the 80 percent of foreigners in its work force.

“(But) how can Sabah match that when the state has been at the lowest level employing all sorts of questionable people?” he asked.

As for the on-going exercise by the Immigration Department to register all illegal workers in Sabah for three months without the need of going away from Sabah, he commented: “I think there is an overlap here as it is not so easy to do that when there are up to a million illegal people in Sabah when most of them are illegally employed in Sabah.”

Whatever the consequences of such twin actions, he said it is likely that these people would be tempted to hide moving from Kota Kinabalu to other places and then return to Kota Kinabalu later.

“Imagine, if there are more than one million foreign workers in Sabah, how much money would be needed to pay for all those levy and related costs when the local economy is largely depressed with the latest food and fuel prices upheaval,” he added.

He said while crime rates may go up coupled with all those critical issues in the economy vis-a-vis the labour force in Sabah and Malaysia, an easy solution is not possible with a ‘rotten system’ in place.

The immediate approach of the undocumented people and their employers would be to hide to avoid detection by the task force, and three months can mean more hardship for the local people who depend on illegal foreigners as their workers in their business and projects.

Population boom

The NGO leader said the Immigration Department’s ad-hoc arrangement where foreigners already working in the state illegally can be registered without going out of the state for a period of five years is self-defeating.

“Such a practice may further increase Sabah’s population by several folds as these workers may bring in their wives and their children. So there is also the likelihood that in five years some of them could have a few children who would be born in Sabah,” he pointed out.

There are also cases where these foreign workers marry locals.

So Sabah, already with an extraordinary population boom since 1990, including the dubious citizens under Project IC, would face another wave of population increase in this decade as it is likely that such newly-registered workers may refuse to leave because of the current government policy towards such people, he added.

“When that happens, what kind of prosperity are we dreaming of when poverty is definitely worse off as we have seen happening in Mindanao and elsewhere in the region,” he said, adding that whatever wealth created would be consumed by such an extraordinary population and the businessmen migrating with their wealth.

“Simply it is bad for nation building with a very big illegal work force. The balance sheet of contribution of the foreigners would be in deficit,” he said.

Please read my previous posting_

Nike: A model company that cares for workers’ rights, Factory placed on ‘red alert’

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