ECONOMIST have warned that Malaysia is quickly losing its appeal as a destination for migrant workers.
Speaking to Malay Mail, Carmelo Ferlito, the chief executive of the Centre for Market Education (CME) and a senior fellow at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) said the issue would leave Malaysia’s economy vulnerable to falling behind regional rivals in attracting investment if not swiftly addressed.
In the 90s when Malaysia is experiencing its economic boom, the country had been a preferred destination for workers in poorer neighbouring countries seeking better fortunes. However, things began to change after the Asian Financial Crisis and the situation had worsen while others in the region recovered faster.
The experts also commented that the development in the country has left some sectors that were reliant on migrant labour such as the food and beverage industry to struggle in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I see two things here. First of all, as our neighbours (Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines) are growing too — and with markets of a different scale — skilled workers find more opportunity at home than here in Malaysia, and this was already happening before the great lockdown,” the duo said.
“Secondly, during the past two years, the Malaysian government has worked hard to make the country less attractive for foreigners, with more difficult conditions for hiring foreigners, also the skilled ones.”
“As you know, you now can hire a foreigner (expatriate) in Malaysia only if the offered salary is above RM15,000 per month. If not, you have to go through a painful selection process under government monitoring, and only if it has been proved that a local worker cannot fit the position you are then free to hire a foreigner.”
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya’s (UM) Prof Mohd Nazari Ismail said the best way to address this is to allow foreign workers in to keep the nation’s economy moving.
Source – Sun Uk