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Malaysia unfreezes ban on foreign workers across four sectors

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The Malaysian Cabinet is lifting the ban on foreign workers it imposed in February this year – for four sectors that have appealed for the ban to be lifted, in light of major staff shortages.

Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the decision will benefit the manufacturing, construction, plantation and furniture-making sectors, as reported by The Straits Times.

“In view of the acute shortage, we have to lift the suspension to allow these sectors to bring in foreign workers,” said Datuk Seri Liow.

For other sectors, he said the decision will be considered on “a case-by-case basis”, as the Government looks to create a more “fool-proof, transparent and accountable system”, after which it would gradually lift the hiring freeze in other sectors too.

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In the meantime, the government is anticipated to engage with various industries to better understand their situations, even as Minister Liow emphasised the importance of it regulating the hiring of foreign workers in Malaysia.

The decision comes just three months after all recruitment of foreign workers was suspended, including those from Bangladesh, when the government was reviewing its new two-tier programme for charging levies on foreign workers, as reported by The Star Online.

At the time, there were estimated to be 2.1 million registered foreign workers in Malaysia, along with 1.7 million illegal foreign workers, as documented by The Straits Times, most of whom are from Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh.

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