Locals First

by Regina William

GEORGE TOWN: All contractors awarded projects by the Penang state government will from now be required to hire only locals, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said. Those who flout this condition will be blacklisted, he told a press conference yesterday.

The ruling, which applies to the two municipal councils in the state, and the land and district offices, comes in the wake of numerous complaints from local workers that they had been unable to find employment recently, said Lim.

The state government’s current contractors would also be advised to hire only locals, he said.

“There have been complaints at various levels by locals that they have not been able to secure jobs which are now being given to foreign workers,” said Lim. “Most of these are for labourers or cleaning services.

“Contractors seem to be inclined to hire foreign workers, whom they have to pay less wages, than hire locals to do the job,” he said.

The new condition will be included as a clause in the state government’s contracts, said Lim.

“The contractors will have to justify why they are unable to hire local workers before they hire foreigners,” he said.

“If they defy this condition, they will be blacklisted and will not be awarded any contracts in future,” said Lim.

He urged those seeking employment to register with the nearest labour department.

“Contractors will be given the list and asked to hire those who have registered with the department.

“We must instill the ‘Malaysians First’ policy among employers,” Lim said.

He said priority should be given to locals, especially in view of the economic downturn.

Lim criticised Human Resources Minister S Subramaniam who recently signed an MoU with Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi for a bilateral labour mobility agreement for orderly recruitment of workers from both countries. “This is fantastic, especially when retrenchments are anticipated,” Lim said.

Noting that the 2.2 million foreign workers in the country make up 27% of the workforce, Lim said the agreement was untimely since the ministry had set a target of bringing the number down to 1.5 million.

SOURCE: The Edge Daily – Lim: Penang govt contractors must hire only locals (06-01-2009)