Minister: 32,000 foreign plantation workers to come to Malaysia from mid-October

Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin speaks at a press conference in Bukit Belah, Machang August 7, 2021. — Bernama pic
Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin speaks at a press conference in Bukit Belah, Machang August 7, 2021. — Bernama pic

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KOTA BARU, Oct 3 — The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (KPPK) has approved 32,000 foreign plantation workers who have completed their Covid-19 vaccination to be brought into Malaysia in stages starting mid-October.

Its Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said they are to become harvesters as most locals were not yet ready to carry out the task.

She said the effort was also part of initiatives carried out in her first 100 days on the job, which was to increase commodity exports.

“KPPK will ensure that plantation workers from abroad can be hired as harvesters because the country still needs foreign manpower as Malaysians are not ready to work as harvesters, although they are comfortable with other tasks.

“However, when the country has acquired new technologies, maybe we will encourage Malaysians to work in plantations with more lucrative salaries offered,” she said after handing over Kenaf Grading Standard documents at the National Kenaf and Tobacco Board headquarters here today.

Zuraida, however, said that standard operating procedures (SOP) for the foreign workers were still being streamlined by the relevant authorities such as the National Security Council (MKN) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).

She said major plantation companies were also ready to follow all SOPs set such as ensuring that foreign workers recruited were fully vaccinated as well as providing suitable places for quarantine as part of efforts to contain Covid-19.

“In fact, these companies are also willing to bear the entry costs of workers from abroad, which would speed up the process of their arrival,” she said, adding that the workers were from Indonesia and Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Zuraida is also optimistic that the target of achieving RM180 billion in commodity exports within her 100 days of service as KPPK minister can be achieved as Malaysia’s commodity exports are valued at more than RM160 billion currently. — Bernama

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