Sunday 24 April 2011



A VERBAL question raised in Parliament in March during the debate on the Policy speech of the Yang di-pertua Agong by the Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament Hiew King Cheu concerning the urgent need of setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry by the Federal Government had received a formal written reply from the Ministry of Human Resources Development.

In the statement made by KK MP Hiew, he mentioned that the vast increase in the number of foreign workers working in the oil palm plantations and they are flooding the Sabah state had caused alarm among the Sabahan. He proposed to set up a RCI to study the various problems caused by the immigrants whether they are legal or illegal.

The answer came from the Ministry said that the Plantation Industry in Sabah has no choice but to depend on the import of the immigrant foreign workers in order to carry out the work that the local people do not favour or choose to do, especially on the harvesting and as general labourers. Throughout 2010, the Sabah Labour Force department had been carrying out aggressive program in helping the employers to source for local work force into the plantations.

In 2010, the department had carried out a total of 45 programs on locating workers and 10 solely on plantation. A total of 6,789 vacancies required in the plantation but only managed to fill 1,068 jobs.

In 2009, 47 programs in Sabah with 10 on plantations with 10,856 vacancies needed people, but only managed to fill 1,050 positions. The locals only choose office jobs, child care, and administrative work only. It is very difficult to get the locals to work as general labourers and as harvesters, therefore there is no choice but have to employ foreigners to do the job.

The policies regarding the foreign workers in all sectors in Sabah are the Sabah state responsibility. Therefore, the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the foreign workers will not be a Federal jurisdiction but instead entirely the Sabah state responsibility. Anyhow, the Chief Minister Department of Sabah had already set up a workshop program on the management of the foreign workers in 2010 to tackle the problems arising from these foreigners.

Hiew considers the answer he received from the ministry is just a clear indication that the Federal is not paying attention to the problems faced by the Sabahans, but pushed all the responsibility back to us. Hiew asked, what is our state government going to do after the RCI on the issue is rejected?

The Immigration control and the Human resources programs are not effective and efficient enough to cater for our local plantation. Hiew said there are many ways to encourage the locals to pick up work offered in the plantations, for example offering better pay and incentives, stopping and limiting the numbers of foreign workers. The most important task is to stop the employment of the illegal workers from working in our plantation work. These people who usually are the supply of the cheap labour source that have also taken over the jobs from our local work force.

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