BAGAN DATOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian Cabinet has decided to halt the recruitment of new foreign workers into the country, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid, who is also home minister, said this also meant that the initial plan to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers was officially scrapped.
"There will not be one, let alone 1.5 million new foreign workers coming into our country.
"Employers who need workers will have to apply to legalise existing foreigners in the country without work permits or whose permits have expired," he told reporters after handing letters of appointments to new village chiefs in the Bagan Datoh parliamentary constituency.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said employers had until June 30 to legalise such foreign workers.
"The government is bringing forward the deadline from Dec 31 because employers continuously ignore the chances given to then.
"Instead, the government is criticised and pressured. If they can't hire anyone, they should just get the Malaysian Employers Federation, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers and Malaysian Trade Union Congress to help them find locals to do the job," he said sarcastically.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said following this, employers and recruitment agents would be dealt with more severely.
"We will be pushing for those found guilty of trafficking and harbouring illegal workers to be caned.
"Right now, they are not afraid because they think they can get away by paying a fine but that will not be the case anymore," he said.