There is concern in some quarters across the Causeway that an update to Singapore’s Fair Consideration Framework could impact Malaysian workers.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced on Jan 1 that her ministry had plans to update the framework to better protect Singaporeans from job discrimination.
Hinting that plans could be unveiled closer to Budget 2020, she said: “Expect stronger deterrence for discrimination against Singaporeans when hiring, but also stronger support for employers who are committed to giving our people a fair chance.”
Some in Johor, however, anticipate that any policy updates could cause increasing difficulties for Malaysians seeking jobs in Singapore in the future.
According to Metro News, about 330,000 Malaysians commute daily from Johor to Singapore to work. Johor South SME Association adviser Teh Kee Sin told the publication that the adoption of a new policy would affect Malaysian job-seekers, from school dropouts to university graduates.
He said: “It’s a known fact many Malaysians are keen to seek jobs in the republic, both in blue and white-collar positions because of the strong Singapore dollar.”
Asserting that Singapore firms hire foreigners for jobs Singaporeans were not interested in taking up and to fill a manpower shortage, Mr Teh said that the fact that Singapore firms favour foreigners for various posts show that foreigners could do jobs in Singapore as well as its citizens.
While he urged Singapore to “look at foreign workers as complementary to their national economic growth”, Mr Teh also called on Malaysia to create more job opportunities for Malaysians by drawing more foreign direct investment into the nation.
Taking a similar view, Johor Indian Business Association president S Sivakumar said the mere notion of a Singaporeans-first employment policy could become a nightmare for Malaysian workers. He said: “Malaysians will have to put up with lack of promotion or even expect retrenchment.”
Echoing Mr Teh’s call for the Malaysian Government to take proactive measures to draw more investments into the nation, Mr Sivakumar said: “We should seriously attract more investments that are in tandem with automation and technology-driven industries and less on labour-intensive activities.”
He added that Malaysia would continue to rely on foreign workers, who are taking advantage and dominating every sector, if the Government fails to protect Malaysian workers and local businesses.