KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 ― Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the influx of migrant workers has made the country's ethnic make-up a confusing one.
Malaysia is a multiracial country but it should not have too many other races, he said at an annual dinner last night for his alma mater Sultan Abdul Hamid College's (SAHC) alumni.
“I think this country is a multiracial country, we like it that way. But we are getting a lot of people from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Middle East, Iran, Central Asia and the like.
“We have now become confused because we do not know who is Malaysian and who is not,” he said.
“If Malaysians want to retain the country and enjoy good wealth, they have to work very hard, they have to study very hard and be serious about working for the country,” he added.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir had highlighted the large number of Bangladeshi migrant workers in Malaysia.
“Why are they here? Because we people do not want to work, so Bangladeshis are doing all the work.”
Malaysians typically shun dirty, dangerous and difficult (3D) jobs, with migrant workers often hired to do such work mainly in sectors such as agriculture and construction.
In the Khazanah Research Institute's report titled “State of Households 2018: Different Realities” and released in October, it cited official statistics when saying foreign workers represent around 15 per cent of all employed persons in Malaysia.
It noted that the number of foreign workers in Malaysia had increased from 1.7 million in 2010 to 2.1 million in 2013, and subsequently to around 2.2 million in 2017.
The report also cited 2015 figures which showed Indonesians as accounting for the largest proportion of foreign workers at 39.2 per cent, followed by the Nepalese (23.5 per cent), and Bangladeshis (13.2 per cent).