Islamic Widget

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The over dependence on foreign workers and its effect to national security

The foreign worker is referred to a person employed in a country to which a person is not a citizen. These workers are hired to work in the host country. Based on the news reported by the Bernama, currently there are more than 2.3 million foreign workers in Malaysia. According to Foreign Workers Management Division of Ministry of Home Affairs, foreign workers only permitted to work on manufacturing, construction, agriculture, plantation and services such as restaurant sub-sector (cook only), cleaning and sanitation sub-sector and resort island sub-sector. Male and female foreign workers from the following source countries are allowed to work in all sectors mentioned, which are Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia.

Since the numbers of foreign workers in Malaysia increase gradually, and recently, Utusan reported that Bangladesh has been signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with malaysia by G2G Plus system to send 1.5 million foreign workers to malaysia. Thus, this situation will contribute to threat imposed towards the national security aspects such as economics, socials and politics of the country. The researchers from University Utara Malaysia (UUM) state that the national security includes all sorts of threats and not specifically focussed on military threats merely. Forms of threat are such as economy, environment, social and culture, politic, ethnic, energy source problem, migration, trafficking, smuggling, cyber crimes and terrorists are considered as a new form of threat to the national security. 

The overflooding of foreign workers especially with semi or unskills is continued and without control, it can bring a negative impact to local economic aspect, social tranquillity, national threat and political stability. According to the former Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein, the increased number of foreigners in Malaysia does not tally with foreigners record, including those registered with the foreign workers recruitment agency. He fears that the increase of foreigners including foreign workers will cause a bad implication towards aspects like social, security and peace until it tarnishes the country’s image in the eyes of the world (Utusan Malaysia, February 17, 2010).

In fact, Malaysia leaders have also voiced out their fears towards losing the security of the country due to the increasing number of foreign workers in Malaysia. The former 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad stated before during a meeting with former Indonesian Prime Minister Megawati Sukarno in year 2002 in Bali, that: “most immigrants or foreign workers who live in Malaysia are unemployed and are involved in criminal activities. This situation has raised a concern among the locals of Malaysia” At the same time, former 5th Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who then was the Deputy Prime Minister, stressed that: “the government needs to take actions to stop immigrants from entering the country. This step needs to be done because many criminal cases that occur involve illegal immigrants. Therefore, a stricter policy needs to be enforced and implemented”

The entry of foreign workers especially illegal migrants in large amounts has caused negative outcome towards the wage structure from continuously increasing. This is because most foreign workers are willing to accept any amount of wage and work any amount of long, flexible hours compared to the locals. For example, a manual worker from Indonesia who works in a big city like Kuala Lumpur will receive salary as low as RM12.50 a day and will have to conduct a different job in order to gain higher income. Usually, a foreign worker in construction sector earns between RM12-16 per day compared to a local worker in the same sector; that is RM20-25 per day for Malays and RM25-35 per day for Chinese, working in the same working capacity. If this phenomenon continues, it is feared that Malaysia will remain known as a country that orientates about low wage labour and as a result, the country’s aim to be a developed country by the year 2020 may be a difficult target to accomplish

Finance Minister made an announcement that up to June 2008, a total of RM9.12 billion has been channelled out of our country and is expected to increase and reach up to twice that amount by the end of year 2008. This is because there are 2.1 million foreign workers registered and it is assumed that each of them sends RM720 every month. This total does not include those who enter illegally, who are estimated to reach up to 1 million of them. Even then, the government considers that they will not possess threat to the growth of the country’s economy based on the belief that the reserve owned is way more than that amount. But then, in the long haul, it may damage the country’s economy especially from aspects of currency exchange and country’s balance of payments (BOP) when reduction in currency value occurs, and then soon it will affect the country’s reserve (Utusan Malaysia, October 23, 2008). At the same time, the entry of foreign workers into Malaysia can also increase the rate of poverty. According to Shari and Embong (1998), foreign workers contribute significantly towards the percentage of poverty in Malaysia. According to the research done, the rate of poverty among the poorest for foreign labours increased from 6.0% in year 1995 to 9.9% in year 1999. This shows that more foreign workers are earning equivalent to or less than the Income Poverty Line. This indirectly gives a negative outcome to the status and quality of life among the Malaysians.

At the same time, the presence of foreign workers has the possibility to threaten the social aspect of the country, such as health. There are foreign workers who enter the country without going through health check up required, and as a result, they bring along contagious disease. Most foreign workers who come in are from under developed countries and have very low levels of health and disease control. In year 1992, the government announced that 30 percent of the 337 thousand foreign workers are HIV positive. With that, the government ordered a rule where every foreign worker who wants to work in Malaysia will need to go through two health check-up processes, first in their own country, and the other in Malaysia (New Straits Times, July, 30 1992).

At the same time, Safety and Health Department exposed that 80% of the foreign workers in the plantation sector are positive for HIV. Based on this analysis and the observation made by National Anti Drug Agency, most HIV cases are among foreign workers in the plantation sector and this is due to the misuse of drugs and not sexual activities (Utusan Malaysia, June 12, 2008).

The presence of foreign workers can also increase the criminal index point in Malaysia. Because of the leniency of border control and management of foreign workers that lacks efficiency, especially the illegal ones, has caused criminal activities to expand vastly. Among the criminal activities that have connection with foreign workers are fights, theft, robbery, murder, smuggling, raping and many more.

The Home Ministry has once announced that 14, 809 out of 37, 446 prisoners in Malaysia are foreign workers where majority of them are illegals. This amount is said to exceed 28% of the capacity that is affordable for the Malaysian prison to support (Marzuki, W, July 8, 2008).

There are some illegal immigrants who already paid a lump sum of money to the ‘illegal agents’ to obtain legal documents and part of them managed to receive blue identification card, which is only specified for Malaysian citizens (Karim et al, 1999). In this regards, the authorities have captured an illegal immigrant in Sabah who tried to use a blue identification card to apply to enter the military. This situation is a serious matter where it may threaten the sovereignty of the country’s defense and military system (Berita Harian, May 14, 2008).

At the same time, the local media also reported approximately 300 thousand foreign workers were hired as security guards. Most of them are from Nepal and have experience in the military and this situation will possess a security threat to the country’s sovereignty. Therefore, Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Albar who was the Home Minister at the time, said that: ‘although we admit that they (Nepalis who work as security guards) have contributed in the national interest, but then these foreign workers (security guards with military experience) have the possibility to bring about security dilemma in the country’s sovereignty’ (Abd. Rahim, T, February 22, 2009, pp: 7)

At the same time, it is estimated that 30 thousand illegal foreign workers are illegal immigrants traced to be working illegally in the local security industry including guarding housing and industrial areas. This has been exposed by the Malaysian Security Control Service Association which also added that most foreign workers are from Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, who are paid between RM400 to RM500 a month, for duration of 12 hours of service per day. As a result of the observation done by that association for the past three years, it was found that some of them were employed by individuals who operated without license. There are also Nepalese hired to work in Malaysia given work permits in the plantation and service sectors but in reality they work illegally as security guards in factories and housing areas (Kumar, January 14, 2011).

Despite on the negative contributions of foreign workers, bringing them to Malaysia also give positive contribution which the one who are willing to work in 3D sectors (Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult) because in reality, not many Malaysian parents want their children to do 3D jobs although their childrens think differently (New Straits Time, Feb 26, 2016). Mostly foreign workers sweeping the roadside, cutting grass, pruning trees and cleaning offices and toilets and the locals are preferred to work in air-conditioned offices or in hotels or shopping malls. According to Bill Gates, “We rely on skilled foreign workers for their math, science and creative abilities as well as their cultural knowledge, which helps when localizing products for world markets.”

In a nutshell, the foreign labour policies and regulations should be strengthened and re-ironed to ensure that foreign labour inflow could meet necessary needs of the local requirement of employment and rehiring of foreign workers policy is the best way to reduce the new employment of foreign workers. Finally, it suggested the best solution to enhance the efficiency of the government administration in employing foreign workers.

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