KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran responded to local pushback against a proposal to supply skilled manual labourers to Japan, saying it was meeting the present reality in which over a million Malaysians are believed to already be working abroad.
However, he said Malaysia has not finalised the memorandum of cooperation with Japan to provide skilled workers to the latter.
“There are approximately one million Malaysians working abroad, 500,000 of whom work in Singapore alone,” Kulasegaran said in a statement.
“In that spirit, it is unfair to deny Malaysians good jobs overseas and it is foolish to think that Malaysians will not seek jobs overseas even if a formal deal was not reached.
“At least with a formal deal, there could be better protection and monitoring of these Malaysians and their development could also be closely monitored.”
Apart from high wages, the minister asserted that Malaysians working in Japan would gain skills and experience that they could bring back to Malaysia.
He also said they may learn the Japanese work ethic and possibly impart this on future generations of Malaysians upon their return.
While he said the government was striving to create more high-skilled work in the country, Kulasegaran said the arrangement with Japan could serve as an interim measure until this goal is achieved.
“Malaysia Baharu will soon consist of a highly skilled and well paid workforce, but before that we need to skill, re-skill and up-skill ourselves as well as venture into new terrain.
“The Philippines and India are already reaping the benefits of exporting their talent overseas and Malaysia has to move in that direction.”
He also said Japan was not taking in labourers indiscriminately but instead screened them for skills, competency and language proficiency.
It was previously reported that the MoC would be signed when the minister visits Tokyo in July. The scheme is meant to take advantage of Japan’s new visa programme launched on April 1 to let in more foreign workers into the country.
Around 50,000 jobs opportunities would be offered to Malaysians as part of the proposal.
However, the news drew mixed response here over concerns about Japan’s treatment of foreign labour and fears it would inadvertently fuel a foreign labour influx here.