PETALING JAYA: “Appointments are for sale” is the latest hurdle some employers – particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – are facing in attracting foreign workers to their companies.
Some of the employers interviewed by The star said the appointments are difficult to obtain because of the red tape involved in recruiting foreign workers.
One of them, who asked not to be named, said that if an employer were given an interview to attract workers, he or she would probably get less than half of what was asked.
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“If you apply for 50, you get 20 workers and the SMEs bear the brunt because their turnover is between RM5M and RM20M.
“Huge organizations take precedence because they have government backing, but for SMEs, unless you know someone, they’re the forgotten bunch sometimes.
“You have to lobby because applications are easily rejected because there are so many requirements to fill out and documents to fill out and upload.
“You also need a bit of help from the association to move forward with your applications,” he said.
The source said this followed a series of arrests by Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission over alleged bribery in employers’ securing quotas for foreign workers.
Among those arrested was the CEO of an IT company.
The source also said locals work a good three months as general workers until they can buy a vehicle, then switch to rush drivers or “contractors.”
This, he added, is the durability of a local manufacturing worker, which is why local companies still have to hire foreign workers.
Currently, the process of recruiting foreign workers in Malaysia is done through the Ministry of Human Resources’ Foreign Workers Centralized Management System (FWCMS).
An employer must create a company profile online and upload all required documents, including sales and employee provident funds, to the system.
There is also a quota for an SME; it is 1:1, for larger companies 1:3 (one local to three foreign workers), depending on the size of the organization and turnover.
Another source close to the industry also revealed that they knew of those who offered to pay for an interview.
The price is 1,300 to 1,500 RM per head and you don’t have to worry about the quota.
“Those who pay in three weeks will get it, while those who actually attend the interview without pay may not even get it after three months. It’s an open secret.
“We already have a system in place and those who know their responsibilities should do their job honestly so these things don’t happen,” the source said.
In George Town, some companies looking to hire foreign workers have had problems with “agents” claiming to be able to help those companies secure interviews for the application and screening process in Putrajaya.
Datuk William Ng, chair of the Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Samenta) for policy and government relations, said those companies reported the incidents to Samenta and expressed concern about possible “back-and-forth” behind the crackdown.
“We have received many complaints from members who have had difficulties hiring foreign workers, which is done through the FWCMS.
“After registration, they have to undergo an interview that takes place in Putrajaya.
“Either they are physically present or through agents.
“However, there have been many instances where applicants have been informed en route (to Putrajaya) that interview appointments have been canceled or rescheduled for reasons such as lack of staff or incorrect timing.
“The strange thing is that after the applications have been postponed, canceled or rejected, “agents” get in touch a short time later.
“These ‘agents’ would offer to assist and expedite the process for a fee of between RM1,000 and RM1,500 per applicant.
“This raises suspicions, and we wonder how these ‘agents’ know our application status in such a short time,” Ng said.
He said the association hopes the interviews could be conducted at the state level or by industry or association bodies with qualified officials present.
“In the past, interviews with ministries such as the International Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) have also included officials from other agencies.
“However, as of this year, they have removed outside interviewers.
“We hope to eliminate agent involvement and keep the process of sourcing foreign labor simple.
“The interviews may not even be necessary.
“If the process can be delegated to the state or association level, the relevant bodies within the body can help and help with the decision rather than relying entirely on the human resources ministry,” he said.
Ng said by simplifying the process, it would not only save time and costs, but also eliminate the risk of unscrupulous parties taking advantage of opportunities.