KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 ― It is just “reality” that employers in the “3D industries” that deal with dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs are unable to offer to pay higher wages to engage Malaysians, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today amid a growing storm over the government’s leniency on foreign worker hire.
He added that this was true especially in the farming and construction sectors that do not capture the interests of local workers.
“At this time, I believe the industry cannot offer a very high pay for these types of work,” he responded when asked by reporters after launching the Fitness in My Pocket fitness app here.
“Industry players of said industries have discussed it and said that the work, especially in construction and farming, still needed foreign workers because there are no local workers who are willing to work in these sectors. This is the reality,” he said.
Following criticism against an planned intake of 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers into the country, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi challenged Malaysian youths to get involved in fields such as agriculture and manual labour if they were against the entry of foreign workers.
He said the youths should take up his challenge in order to reduce the country’s dependency on foreign workers.
The statement was quickly followed by calls from critics to revise the minimum wage and employee benefits in the country if the government was serious about getting Malaysians to work in such industries.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said yesterday said that the government had no choice but to propose bringing in foreign workers as locals were not keen on doing such jobs.
She also made a call for critics to make a proposal of an alternative for the government to consider.