KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — A total of 20,970 foreign worker employment quota has been approved for the plantation sector under the Foreign Worker Employment Relaxation Plan (FWERP) as of March 18, 2023.
According to Deputy Plantation and Commodities Minister, Datuk Siti Aminah Aching, Malaysia is still in need of foreign workers in the near term.
She added that the ministry has engaged with the Human Resources Ministry and the Home Affairs Ministry to speed up and simplify the entry of foreign workers to meet the plantation sector’s labour needs.
“The shortage of and dependence on the foreign labour force in the oil palm plantation sector arose due to the lack of involvement of local workers, especially in harvesting and picking fresh fruit bunches which are very important and require more manpower compared to other activities in the oil palm plantation.
“These activities are now being dominated by foreign labour,” she said during the question and answer session in the Dewan Negara today.
She said this in reply to a question from Senator Tan Sri Mohamad Fatmi Che Salleh who asked about the short-term and long-term action plan to address the shortage of and high dependence on foreign labour in the plantation sector, especially in the oil palm plantations.
Siti Aminah noted that the plantation sector was one of five critical sectors that require a significant number of foreign workers.
The five sectors have been given priority to obtain foreign labour under FWERP, and employers in the sectors have been given the flexibility to employ foreign workers from 15 countries without going through the prerequisites of employment and quota eligibility since the FWERP was implemented on Jan 17, 2023.
Meanwhile, as for the long-term plan, Siti Aminah said the government is focusing on enhancing the Mechanisation and Automation Research Consortium of Oil Palm (Marcop) launched in 2021 to encourage research and commercialisation of mechanisation and automation technology in plantations.
“With the establishment of Marcop, the government aims to increase the application of technology, mechanisation and automation in plantations to reduce the use of labour and boost productivity,” she said. — Bernama