Sunday 16 September 2012

No ban on east Malaysian workers, says Singapore

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) denied today it is barring east Malaysians from working in the island republic, saying the required work permits would be issued as long as the individuals met its stringent criteria.

The island state, had come under scrutiny recently following news reports its government had stopped issuing or renewing work passes for east Malaysian male natives below 35 years old, in what was seen as a backlash to the growing crime rate allegedly involving foreigners there.

“There is no ban on workers from Sabah and Sarawak to work in Singapore,” said MOM, confirming that such a policy does not exist.

“We continue to approve the work permits of workers from Sabah and Sarawak who are found to be eligible and suitable to work in Singapore,” it wrote in a four-paragraph statement emailed to The Malaysian Insider.

The MOM echoed Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean who had previously said that the republic was rejecting more applications for work permits due to its stricter policy on foreigners.

The alleged new policy was reportedly making it more difficult for law-abiding Sabah and Sarawak natives to get mainly unskilled labour jobs in Singapore.

But Singapore’s manpower ministry pointed out that the stricter rules for work permits apply to all countries, and that it was not singling out Malaysia.

“We have tightened our criteria on the hiring and retention of foreign manpower over the past few years to moderate the growth of the foreign workforce and to promote productivity-led growth.

“As a result, there are workers from various sources, not just from the East Malaysian states, who may not meet the more stringent criteria and requirements to work in Singapore,” MOM said.

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.

Singapore rejected 30 per cent of applications for work passes by foreigners between Jan 1 to July 31 this year, the Straits Times reported on Tuesday.

This was a jump from the 26 per cent rejection rate for the entire year of 2011, Singapore’s Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin reportedly said.

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