MIRI, Sept 5 — The work permit system implemented by Sarawak government for sectors like oil and gas (O&G) signifies the state’s autonomous right of giving employment priority to qualified Sarawakians.
In pointing this out, Deputy Minister in Sarawak Premier’s Department (Labour, Immigration and Project Monitoring) Datuk Gerawat Gala said such autonomy was provided for under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and Immigration Act 1959/63, which also accorded Sarawak the right to refuse entry to non-Sarawakians including foreigners, peninsular Malaysians and Sabahans.
“Under this system, the government intends to protect the jobs for Sarawakians, where the jobs that are available for qualified Sarawakians, we would not give the work permits to employers to bring in non-resident employees,” he said in his speech for Sarawak Oil and Gas Workers Association (Sogwa)’s fundraising dinner at a hotel here Saturday.
“Employers wanting to get non-resident workers are required to show proof that the local Sarawakians are not available for the jobs, and that the employers are required to advertise job vacancies.
“Only if no suitable Sarawakians are available (for the vacancies), then state would approve work permits for non-resident workers,” added the Mulu assemblyman.
According to Gerawat, the new system and database for processing work permits are now in progress, meant to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency in the process by cutting down the time for approval and setting up a better and more reliable database of the available skills and talents slated for the different industries, including O&G.
“While protecting jobs for Sarawakians is a part of the state government’s priority, it is equally important to note that the state needs investors and the private sector needs to develop new industries and grow existing ones such as those pertaining to digital economy and green economy (hydrogen power), where the investors need expert and skilled workers to ensure the success of their investments.
“As such, the state government has agreed to allow the provision of the five-year work permit for experts and specialists in key industries such as O&G, digital and green economy — all of them being a part of the strategy towards achieving the Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 goal,” he elaborated.
Gerawat also called upon Sogwa to up-skill and re-skill its members through various programmes, some of which were government-funded, to remain relevant in the O&G industry.
“Sarawakians in the O&G industry are well-known and respected internationally for their skills, expertise, work discipline and dedication. In this aspect, Sogwa plays a key role of maintaining this reputation.
“Government-sponsored training institutions such as Centexs (Centre of Technical Excellence Sarawak) and ICATS (International College of Advanced Technology Sarawak) are among the accredited institutions that provide training for Sarawakians in O&G sector, where they could enrol in to improve themselves,” he said.
On the issue raised by Sogwa regarding members who were experiencing unpaid or delayed salaries, Gerawat said it most likely it involved the freelance workers rather than the full-time employees.
On this matter, he advised: “It is important to read your contracts well and understand the legal implications and risks before you sign the papers. I suggest the members to obtain advice from Sogwa’s legal advisor for further action.” It is informed that the fundraising dinner meant to raise RM150,000 to purchase equipment and facilities for a centre located at Senadin.
The two-storey Sogwa building was approved by Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg in 2020, with a funding of RM720,000.
Later, Gerawat announced a contribution of RM30,000 to Sogwa in support of the fundraising effort.
Also present at the dinner were Deputy Minister of International Trade and Investment Datuk Dr Malcom Mussen Lamoh who represented Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan; Councillor Leslie Lau who represented Deputy Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts I Datuk Sebastian Ting; and Sogwa chairman Jamal Abdullah. — Borneo Post Online