Saturday, January 07, 2006

Foreign workers

A very important question to ask and analyse is how on earth did the foreign workers got to become so many. How and why did Malaysia get into such a serious problem where more than 20% of its workforce are foreigners ? When asked why we have millions of foreign workers, the answer from our typical economic reports and advisers would place the blame on Malaysia’s tight labour market conditions and her sustained economic growth. Is this really the cause of our labour problem ? Come on please do not kid the simple Malaysians. Surely the question that we have to ask is why were we generating economic growth that only sucked in the low wage, low skill foreign workers. Why were we not attracting the industries and businesses that would suck in the skilled and professionals instead ? Why were our industries, companies and businesses and government departments not modernising, restructuring and improving their productivity ? Why is it that Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, economies that enjoyed sustained growth more rapid and more prolonged than Malaysia ever did, did not end up with such foreign workers problem? Why is Malaysia so reliant on millions of Indonesians workers? If the Malaysian labour market is so tight and causing millions of foreign workers to be sucked in or to be retained, why do we not resort to retrenchment when times are bad or when the economy is in recession ? Why do we not allow market forces to shape and restructure the economy including the labour market ?

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