KL to lift work ban on foreign retirees

   KL to lift work ban on foreign retirees 


KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 – Malaysia plans to lift a ban preventing foreign retirees living in the country from seeking employment, to allow local and international companies to tap a potentially large pool of highly educated professionals.

Senior government officials said that the relaxation on employment rules for foreigners who live in the country under the Malaysia My Second Home programme could be finalised before year end.

The plan to relax the rules marks a major economic policy shift for Malaysia. For years, the country has promoted its manufacturing sector that relied heavily on low-cost foreign labour from neighbouring Indonesia, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh.

But in recent months, government planners have signalled that the country wants to develop its services sector, similar to what Singapore has done, and declared that new measures would be introduced to woo foreign professionals.

“The objective of the review is to tap a huge and ready resource. We will also be able to address the imbalances in the national labour policy, which is skewed towards attracting low-wage manpower,” said a government official involved in the discussions.

Malaysia’s second home programme, sometimes referred to as the “silver-haired” retirement plan, is a residency scheme offered by the government to let foreigners live in the country on a 10-year renewable visa.

The programme, which has attracted more than 10,000 foreign nationals and is supervised by the Tourism Ministry, allows foreigners to acquire property and entitles them to tax waivers on car purchases.

But the scheme imposes strict restrictions on participants and their spouses from securing employment in the country, because of fears among some sections of Malaysia’s civil service that locals could lose out to the more experienced foreigners for top managerial positions.

Senior government officials say there has been a strong lobby against the policy from foreign investors in Malaysia, who have long complained of the government’s rigid stance towards granting work permits for expatriates.

Foreign investors have also griped that luring foreigners to work in Malaysia is often a tough sell because the government prohibits spouses of expatriates from seeking employment in the country.

Faced with an increasingly bleak economic outlook, the government plans to relax the rules on foreign employment in its bid to attract foreign direct investment.

Foreign and local business groups have argued that many participants of the silver-haired programme, many of whom have worked in Malaysia previously, could easily be employed in advisory roles for local and foreign companies.

“The plan is to lift the employment ban for the Malaysia My Second Home participants, and then push ahead with more relaxed rules on the employment of expatriates,” said a chief executive of a transport company, who has been in discussions with the government on the new employment policy. – The Straits Times


   KL to lift work ban on foreign retirees 

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