KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Opposition MP Lim Guan Eng today blamed Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan for the migrant worker application snarl that reportedly took place yesterday, saying again that the ministry should have heeded longstanding calls to cut red tape and streamline the process.

Lim alleged as many as 1,000 employers were reported to be upset after being turned away from the Human Resources Ministry yesterday, when they were unable to be interviewed for their foreign worker quota applications.

“Some have queued up to 20 hours beginning the night before but were forced to have their interview dates postponed because of the large number that showed up,” Lim, a former minister and national chairman of DAP, said in a statement.

“The ministry can do a better job in this digital age and computer era than having employers who are already busy managing their businesses, queue up fruitlessly for long hours waiting unsuccessfully to be served.”


Key industries in the country are facing a severe manpower shortage that critics of the government said will cost them billions of ringgit in losses from potential sales, as companies struggle to keep up with the pent-up demand that followed the lifting of Covid-19 curbs.

Lim said failure to resolve the severe worker shortage will hinder efforts by all industries to overcome the 1.2 million worker shortage and inflicted losses of RM33.5 billion to the plantation sector, glove and auto spare parts industry alone.

“How can Malaysia generate economic growth if such a simple matter of documentation and processing of foreign labour recruitment cannot be resolved?” Lim asked.


"The government must expedite foreign worker approvals through a transparent, predictable and effective mechanism. M. Saravanan should help and not harm businesses by cutting the red tape surrounding the many applications,” the former minister added.

Malaysia’s electrical and electronics (E&E) sector reportedly needs at least 30,000 workers urgently. More will be needed if companies want to expand their factories or set up new ones, the Bagan MP said.

Industry groups have long called on the government to make the processing system easy to tackle the huge backlog in applications.

Lim had suggested Putrajaya adopts decentralisation to the respective states via a “One Stop Centre” approach. He warned that failure to address the labour shortage could jeopardise exports for the E&E sector.

E&E is one of the country’s biggest employers. The sector’s output rose 18 per cent from RM386 billion in 2020 to RM456 billion in 2021, generated 56 per cent of Malaysia’s 2021 trade surplus, and accounted for 6.3 per cent of 2021’s total worldwide E&E exports.