Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Workers’

Nostalgia Klang

December 10th, 2012
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The video below were taken by a group of Taylor University students for their project.  I had assisted them in a way, providing some limited insight into Jalan Tengku Kelana (or Little India area). The video brought back memories and I can recall some of the people they had interviewed.


Crackdown on illegals must go on immediately

February 2nd, 2010
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Come on, we are not dealing with school kids. Businessmen are adults who are fully aware of right and wrong. They are not mentally incapacitated or threatened to hire illegal workers. Be it high class nasi kandar shops or the stall in chinese food court, from office to homes, you can find foreigners from maid to cashier in quite a number of them. We are the ones hiring foreign workers (legal or illegal), and then cry foul when a robbery or murder happens. We are the one who blame everyone else when social problems increase.

We should make this a quarterly exercise so that can reduce number of illegals in the country. Government must proceed with the crackdown as soon as possible. This will force businesses to hire locals or legal foreign workers, most likely at a much higher cost. This in turn, will contribute towards higher food cost for the consumers. And that, will reflect more correctly on our cost of living. Then we will know the price of security and employment for locals.

The Government will meet representatives from the Chinese chambers of commerce and guilds this week before deciding whether to proceed with a planned crackdown on illegals.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said he had already met with nasi kandar operators on the issue last week.

“I will be meeting the Chinese chambers and guilds next and will decide after that,” he told The Star yesterday.

However, asked if thousands of employers “guilty of hiring illegals” would be given a reprieve from action against them under the crackdown scheduled for Feb 15, the minister was tight-lipped. “Wait for my announcement.”

Sources said the meeting was scheduled to be held on Friday at the minister’s office here.

Last month, the Immigration Department announced that it would commence a nationwide crackdown on thousands of employers, believed to be harbouring or employing illegal workers.

The operation will be carried out with the help of police and Rela.

Currently, there are about 1.8 million legal foreign workers in the country and the department believes there are at least an equal number of illegals.

There have been requests for the crackdown to be postponed as it was scheduled to start on the second day of Chinese New Year, where businesses would be brisk with huge profits to be made.

Last week, Hishammuddin promised to be lenient on employers who hired illegals if they could assure authorities that they were “getting their act together.”

He said, since the deadline for the crackdown was announced, many employers had come forward and admitted to hiring illegal workers.

DIY Haircut anyone

December 10th, 2009
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Going by the sound of it, Malaysia is going to have a serious crisis. The numbers aren’t good. Parents are at a loss. Disciplinary teachers are going to have their hands full. How many people can afford to go for standard haircut at RM25?

So, whose fault is it?

Let’s look at the problem first – barbers are saying there’s manpower shortage and due to that many barber shops may have to close down soon. The request to import barbers from India have been rejected by Home Ministry. I remember that there were plans to build our own human capacity in this industry. So what happened? Some colleges offered hairstyling programmes, but I guess the graduates wanted to work on their own rather than being employed under someone. And, in a way its good that people run their own business. Many barber shops owners actually employ foreign workers while themselves are into other business. So, those that depend on foreign workers will have either take up the jobs themselves or find other business to invest in. This may see the increase of prices and possibly the demise of Indian barber shops in certain areas. The standard price for a normal hair cut is RM9. This may rise as more “graduates’ appear and provide “professional” services.

Another solution for parents/Regular Joe, buy the hair cutter/clipper and DIY at home. Save money and no need to worry about hair style. Just crew cut and repeat every two months!

Back to whose fault – I guess its the barbers and authorities. No proper planning or did not anticipate such an outcome.

RM1000 + meals + accommodation sounds a good deal for beginners. After 5 years of hair-cutting, what’s the prospect and career path like?

The shortage of traditional barbers in the country has worsened and may force many barber shops to close within the next six months.

The Penang Indian Hairstylists’ Association says there is a shortage of 2,000 barbers.

Committee member K. Selva Kumaren said 50 barber shops had ceased operations in Penang in the past three or four months due to the shortage.

Selva Kumaren was talking to reporters at a press conference here yesterday.

He said applications to bring in traditional barbers from India were rejected by the Home Ministry.

Selva Kumaren added that local operators had to depend on barbers from India because Malaysians were more keen to operate their own hair salons rather than work for someone. He said a barber is permitted to work here for five years.

Association member M. Bani said employers were willing to pay locally-trained barbers between RM800 to RM1,000 pus meal allowances and accommodation while barbers from India were paid a maximum of RM800.

local cooks and barbers on the way

August 16th, 2009
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This is one of the good things organised so far. By relying less on foreigners, we are reducing social problems and also providing job opportunity to locals. As it is, restaurants are employing lots of foreign workers –  managers, cashiers, waiters, cooks, cleaners etc. In a way, it also helps to preserve our culinary heritage. I’m thinking that in 10-20 years, Indian delicacies will end up being “owned” by other races. Nowadays,  thosai, muruku, achi-muruku, athirasam etc, are being hijacked slowly.

Secondly, there’s an issue of wage. Locals will demand and expect better wages and perks, simply because their living expenses are higher than foreign workers. Employers will cite cases where locals are not able to perform as well as foreign workers, while workers will point to the wages and working conditions. While this conundrum exists, it won’t be easy to improve the restaurant industry.

Anyway, its a bit far-fetched to say that “Once they graduate, they will be able to open their own restaurants”.  Opening a restaurant is not like opening a a bank account. Need lots of cash, proper survey, planning etc.

As for barbers, this is a good field indeed. I know that some locals are venturing into this business, but there’s something to consider – which market you want to capture. There’s the “working man” market – no frills service for fees between RM5 – Rm10. Second is the “affordable” market – where more frills and services are provided.

I know that courses involving food and hair styling are offered under MLVK, Kolej Komuniti, and in private colleges as well. Perhaps more accessibility should be provided for these graduates to learn a variety of skills.

KUALA LUMPUR: In future, Indian restaurants will mostly have Malaysian cooks, and not cooks from India, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said.

He said there had been encouraging response from locals to be trained as cooks under a ministry programme.

“We hope to reduce the number of cooks from India in stages, especially in Indian restaurants, once the first batch of locally-trained chefs graduate,” he told reporters after visiting the CQ Tec College here yesterday.

The college received its first batch of 25 trainees for an intensive, six-month programme in June.

Dr Subramaniam said the fees for the trainees were borne by the ministry through the Human Resources Development Fund, adding that they would also receive monthly allowances.

“Once they graduate, they will be able to open their own restaurants,” he said, adding that the future was promising for Indian youths.

He said the idea was mooted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who wanted the ministry to train local chefs and not depend on cooks from India.

Another training programme undertaken by the ministry was hair-styling, to replace barbers from India.

“We want the two sectors (restaurants and hair salons/barber shops) to rely less on foreign workers and employ locally-trained people,” he said

Foreigners eating away locals livelihood

March 7th, 2009
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Today I saw a foreign worker selling young coconut water (air kelapa muda) along the road to my housing area. There are few other stalls along the 2km road – all manned by locals, except for the one I mentioned above. The Indonesian workers who work at housing development projects moonlight by offering services to local residents – everything from cement work, painting, tiling, plumbing. You name it, they’ll do it.  And of course, they charge as high as local workers if you fall for it. The foreigners don’t pay taxes and escape all kinds of fees. There’s even one family squatting on a land next door and our police and local council (MPS) can’t spot them in broad daylight! Yup, this is Bolehland for you.

Thus, its not surprising to see SK Devamany commenting that “foreign workers (and students) are taking away business opportunities from locals by working longer hours for less”.  He also added that the foreigners are moving from labour-intensive jobs to go into the micro-credit system. He said they were running businesses in Kampung Baru and the Chow Kit area, besides farming in rural areas. He also said locals allowed foreigners to run their businesses.

“The more foreigners work here, the more difficult it will be for locals to get a salary hike.”

To curb the trend, Devamany suggested several measures, including intensifying enforcement against foreigners and amendments to the law requiring employers to balance their workforce, suggesting 50/50 ratio.

Foreigners are overwhelming the country – due to corruption. In the name of business, trading, and permits, thousands of workers are brought in, but where they go after reaching Malaysia remains a questions. The rot starts from Immigration Department and I guess involve many people.  Just to give you an idea, a “agent” who is involved in securing work permits spends RM5000 for spa treatments and RM10,000 for hotel dining. Not for himself, but for his “guests” at the government department. That’s for a month. So, its natural only that one asks for the whole process to be investigated. That’s what Devamany asks of MACC:

Why is it so easy from them to enter the country?

I hope the MACC will play a bigger role in protecting our country from such problems

The Home Affairs Ministry needs to alter its foreign worker policy and not stoop to the whims and fancies of employers for they are only looking for maximum profit

Yeah, why indeed?

Education is also not spared. Due to competitiveness, local colleges and universities are importing students of dubious academic qualifications and intentions. Now we see cases of suicides, black money scams, robbery, drug distribution, prostitution etc happening. We see foreigners selling knick-knacks,

I remember writing about the corruption case and arrest of Immigration Department’s officer last year July. The issues with foreign workers is a long running saga, perhaps going back into last 15 years. If one is going to investigate the wrong-doings, it will take a long time and most probably fruitless.

So, what is the solution? We need immediate, short-term, and mid-term, and long term solutions.  There’s a need to balance between industry requirement and local employment needs. Our local youths are of not much help either. Some expect money to fall down on their laps, and we are not talking about RM500 here. Quite recently, I had a diploma holder with less than few years experience asking for RM3000 salary! In this time of crisis, we have to lower expectations a bit. We still employ barbers from India because local don’t fancy the job. Of course lower salary is an impending factor. The locals, even if they lower their expectations, they can’t compete with foreign workers’ salaries.

The downside of reducing dependency on foreign workers is the increase in operational costs that is solvable in two ways – business absorbing the increase or passing it to the consumers. No prizes for guessing the correct answer. The question we should ask is if the lower operating cost and increase profits is worth the security problems and long-term population issues.

Only critical industries like construction and plantation should be still allowed to import workers. I was in a hotel in KL end of last year. All of  the workers were foreigners! And here in our country, we have hotel management courses being offered by all kinds of colleges.  Makes me wonder!