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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Foreign labourers are becoming bosses, says economist

PETALING JAYA - Times are a-changing. Blue collar foreign workers in Malaysia are climbing the ladder faster than expected by opening businesses traditionally run by locals, making it harder for youths to earn a living, said an economist.

The foreign workers start off working as cashiers in clothing stores, jewellery shops, restaurants, mechanic workshops, construction businesses and selling mobile phones.

They eventually make a deal with the owner to go on a profit-sharing venture, making the business owner even more reliant on foreign workers.

Former RAM Holdings Group Chief Economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng, who is now a professor in Sunway Business University, said the locals were finding it hard to compete with migrants who offered services at a cheaper rate.

“The notion of Banglasia (blue collar jobs taking over Malaysian jobs) is already taking place.
“The 3D (Dirty, Difficult, Dangerous) workers were brought in to construct buildings.

“They have learnt the trade and are now running their own businesses.”

He said this was becoming obvious in many parts in the city where migrants employed for 3D jobs were now running the business.

“They run handphone shops. They have the skills to repair a car when our own people are still struggling to master such skills,” he told FMT.

Dr Yeah Kim Leng
He said due to this situation the salaries of Malaysians were not expected to improve as more employers employ migrants as they are cheaper to have on the payroll.

Yeah said the problem was creeping into the construction sector where small-time contractors, who normally earn extra by renovating homes and offices, were losing the business to Indonesians.

Yeah said the government needed to carry out stricter enforcement to nab those working without permits or this would have a negative impact on the workforce.

He said school dropouts or those who do not want to complete their education will find it harder to find jobs.

“Foreign workers see Malaysia as a haven. They come in as 3D workers and eventually start sharing profits with the owners, who don’t want to sit all day behind the counter. It is not good for the nation’s future.”

He said if the problem was not controlled, Malaysians looking for lower-ranking jobs would find it difficult to be employees as “by that time the problem would have been embedded in the system.”

In June last year, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced a total of 1.5 million Bangladeshi nationals would be brought into Malaysia in stages to meet the growing demands from local employers.

This is on hold for now until a programme to legalise illegals by employers is completed.

Malaysia has a whopping 2.07 million legal foreign workers in the country and this figure does not take into account the millions of undocumented workers in Malaysia.

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