In the report by Free Malaysia Today, Fateh Iskandar Mohamed Mansor, president of Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association of Malaysia (REHDA) had brought forward how many of the foreign workers came to the country without any skills and received training on the job. He said: “When they come here, they don’t have skills or experience, so we teach them. We make them bar benders, bricklayers, tile and roofing experts, and so on.”
However, when their work visas expire, these skilled foreign workers have to leave. According to Fateh, this was Malaysia’s loss as these workers could easily get jobs in other countries due to their newly-acquired skills. He questioned: “Why not have a policy where we retain such workers on a contract basis for another seven to 10 years?”
In the report, Fateh also said that efforts to repatriate foreign workers shouldn’t be rushed as the industry would suffer.
“The truth is we don’t have enough skilled workers for construction. You can’t be too hasty in making such decisions that would impact the industry on a large scale. The market would collapse,” said Fateh.
For example, he highlighted how it was clear that Putrajaya needed to develop a comprehensive policy on foreign workers to better retain foreign talent in the construction industry. In recent times, the government has cracked down on undocumented foreign workers in the country after giving employers six months to register their foreign workers under the Immigration Department’s E-kad programme.
As of 12 July, more than 3,000 undocumented foreign workers had been rounded up, including scores from construction sites across the country. The e-card is a temporary identification document to replace valid travel documents and is issued free of charge. Previously, Immigration Department director-general Mustafar Ali lamented that many employers had failed to register their workers under the programme.
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