Speaking to The Star in Johor Baru, Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Ilango Karuppannan has cautioned Malaysians planning to work in Singapore to get in touch with registered employment agents and not be taken in by promises of “high-paying” jobs through advertisements in newspapers, social media or those pasted at bus-stops and lamp posts.

The advice comes on the back of cases of Malaysians being duped into accepting jobs with no proper employment contracts, basic salaries and rest days, while some even have their passports held by their employers. However, he noted the number of such cases has dropped from as many as 1,500 a year about 10 years ago to only 138 last year.

“Previously, Sabahans and Sarawakians accounted for the bulk of those who fall prey to unscrupulous employers. “But since the High Commission started handling labour matters, cases have dropped by 91%,” he said in an interview with The Star.

It is estimated that between 450,000 and 500,000 Malaysians currently work across various sectors in Singapore, which includes the 120,000 workers who commute daily to the nation.

“We do not have an exact number but many of them are blue-­collar workers,” he said, adding that the Malaysian and Singaporean governments have taken steps to minimise such labour problems. “They include establishing the Malaysians Overseas Employees Management Centre at labour offices nationwide."

He explained: “This centre helps Malaysians to check if a job offer is genuine or fake and whether the employment agent is a registered one who can be trusted,” adding that Singapore also tightened its Employment of Foreign Manpower Act in 2009 by imposing higher and more punitive penalties.

Asked about retrenchments taking place in Singapore, Ilango added that it was an issue affecting several sectors. However, he expressed confidence that Malaysians would still be sought after due to the similarities between both countries and social problems created by other foreign workers there.

Ilango reminded Malaysian workers to always adhere to all the rules and regulations set by the Singapore government, including having a valid work pass. He also urged Malaysians who need assistance on labour issues to contact the high commission at +65-62350111.