The Cabinet meeting today decided to allow a quota of 7,500 foreign workers for three sub-sectors, namely barbershops, textile stores, and goldsmiths.
Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar said the reopening of the intake of foreign workers for the three sub-sectors was not comprehensive but based on the actual needs.
He said the Cabinet meeting's decision this morning was in line with the announcement made by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Sept 4 on the reopening of the intake of foreign workers for the three sub-sectors, which had been frozen since 2009.
"These three sub-sectors are (occupations) traditionally for the Indian community. Since businessmen were not allowed to bring in foreign workers, they have faced (a shortage of workers) problem for over 14 years, and many have had to shut down their businesses or are on the verge of closing down their businesses if they cannot recruit foreign workers.
"For a start, we (the human resources ministry), will give approval for a quota of 7,500 workers, and we will try to solve the problems faced by businesses that are critically affected first," he told reporters after the launch of the Jelajah Madani with the human resources ministry in Klang today.
Sivakumar said this measure will also put a stop to the practice of employers recruiting foreigners without valid employment documents, adding that his ministry is aware that such practices could lead to issues like exploitation and forced labour.
He also said that the ministry, together with the home affairs ministry and the domestic trade and cost of living ministry, will study in detail the appropriate mechanisms for the implementation of this process as the government has currently stopped accepting applications and the approval of the recruitment of foreign workers.
"As such, the mechanism to be developed will emphasise matters such as applications that are subject to the details of quotas set according to the three sub-sectors.
"The domestic trade and cost of living ministry, as the regulatory agency, needs to streamline the quota details with industry players based on the stipulated mechanism," he said.
Sivakumar also explained that applications for foreign workers will adhere to existing procedures in terms of employer screening under Section 60K of the Employment Act 1955 and verification for quota approval, including through the process of interviews together with the regulatory agency, namely the domestic trade and cost of living ministry.
He added that, although approved, his ministry would continue to provide more workforce in the country to reduce its dependency on foreign labour.
On Monday, the prime minister announced that the government had approved part of the applications for the recruitment of foreign workers for the three sectors, which had been frozen.
However, Anwar placed the condition that local youths be trained to fill up vacancies in the three sectors.