KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — Singapore has raised from 18 to 35 the age requirement for east Malaysian natives seeking work there, a move seen as punitive towards the group considered “rowdy” by the republic’s authorities.
According to a report on The Star’s website today, the policy change was triggered by recent crimes and altercations involving Sabah and Sarawak natives on the island state. These include homicides in the areas of Ang Mo Kio Avenue, Kallang, and also Geylang.
Although no official circular has been issued by Singapore over the matter, Gagasan Dayak Iban Bersatu Malaysia (GAIU) president Sai Malaka pointed out that applications by the east Malaysians under the arbitrary age requirement were being rejected off hand.
“I feel that this measure is very extreme and discriminatory towards native Sabahans and Sarawakians,” Sai said was quoted as saying in the report.
“Luckily the [Malaysian] government is developing the oil and gas hub in Pengerang near here. The project is now providing much needed work for these unemployed workers.”
Singapore said, however, that the measures were not targeting east Malaysians and were meant to temper its foreign workforce growth.
“We will continue to approve or renew the work passes of workers from Sabah and Sarawak who are found to be eligible and suitable to work in Singapore,” a Singapore Manpower Ministry (MOM) representative was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The growing foreign workforce was a campaign issue during the recent Singapore general election, according to the Malaysian High Commission there, which may have prompted the recent rule tightening.
The new policy has reportedly made it more difficult for law-abiding Sabah and Sarawak natives attempting to secure the mainly unskilled labour jobs on the island state.