Forest City developer denies hiring illegal Chinese workers, not paying them

CGPV insists the company is a law-abiding corporate citizen which ensures compliance of all laws and regulations. — Picture by Ben Tan
CGPV insists the company is a law-abiding corporate citizen which ensures compliance of all laws and regulations. — Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, Jan 16 — Country Garden Pacificview (CGPV) Sdn Bhd, the developer of Johor’s Forest City, has today denied that it had cases of non-contractual payment for workers from China who had entered the country on tourist visas.

It asserted in a statement that the company is a law-abiding corporate citizen which ensures compliance of all laws and regulations.

“The case of non-contractual payment in Forest City does not arise. If there is any contract dispute or wage issue, CGPV even offers a direct comprehensive labour complaint management system,” it said in response to a news report in the Financial Times, which was later picked up by Malay Mail.

The Financial Times had quoted a Chinese construction worker in Johor’s Forest City project who claimed that he was on a tourist visa pending a work permit.

He also alleged that his 20,000-yuan (RM12,160.30) payment for work completed was withheld by his manager, and that he was unable to demand for it due to his illegal work status.

In the statement, CGPV said it takes the matter very seriously and will ensure strict adherence by the main contractors and suppliers who work with the company.

It stressed that the company ensures a strict compliance of payment with the project’s progress.

“It is unreasonable to singularly isolate a particular statement of a worker who is not directly employed by the developer.

“The action of an irresponsible sub-contractor, specifically those which does not have direct contractual relationship with the company, deserves greater scrutiny by all parties including enforcement agencies,” read the statement.

Whilst the action of illegal middlemen or agencies should not be the fault of the developer, CGPV said it has always been proactive in resolving issues by working closely with the Home Ministry, Human Resources Ministry and the embassies of its foreign labourers.

“In addition, a strict and standardised labour visa management system is in place. All labour visas are approved and issued by the Home Ministry and CGPV has been working closely with the relevant government agencies to ensure the company is in compliance with all rules and regulations.

“CGPV has also appointed a local third-party labour service company to assist the labourers on the renewal or cancellation of their labour visa,” added the statement.

CGPV said since September 2018 to date, the agency has helped to process 131 cases of visa renewal and 41 cases of check-out memo.

It said all renewal, cancellation and processing of labourers’ visas are conducted online via MYEG, the service provider appointed by the Malaysian government.

“Furthermore, we would like to clarify that CGPV’s official spokesperson was not contacted by the media to provide any response on this matter despite the quote in the FT news article.

“In conclusion, CGPV has always established an open-line communication channel with government agencies specifically the Immigration Department, Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB) and also the Chinese Embassy in Malaysia to ensure timely and appropriate resolution of foreign labour issues.”

Allegations about the use of illegal migrant workers in the Forest City project surfaced about two years ago.

National news agency Bernama reported on May 14, 2017 that the Immigration Department had issued 2,485 temporary work permits as well as 1,682 employment and professional visit passes to Chinese nationals working in four construction locations in Johor, including Forest City.

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