Assets freeze: Bad move, say industry captains

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PETALING JAYA: Industry leaders are against any move to freeze the assets of businesses that employ illegal workers.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Association of Malaysia President Michael Kang said the move could lead to many businesses stopping operations, resulting in a dampening of the economy.

He was responding to a warning by the Immi­gration Department that it would freeze assets of employers in the industrial sector who hired or harboured illegal foreign workers beginning October.

Kang told The Star that the majority of SMEs hired illegal workers “because the cost of rehiring foreign workers is too high and the procedures too rigid”.

“Currently, 70 per cent to 80 per cent of SMEs have illegal workers because it is too expensive (not to do so) and there is no guarantee they will be supplied with legal workers,” Kang was quoted as saying by The Star.

Kang said there should be a proper system in place for the hiring of foreigners. There are about 650,000 SMEs nationwide.

Federation of Malaysian Manufac­turers President Saw Choo Boon was quoted as saying the government’s stand on foreign workers was hurting the industry.

Agreeing the illegal foreign worker situation should be addressed, he, however, said, industries should not be overly restricted in sourcing for foreign workers.

Calling for rules and procedures for hiring, and work permit extensions, to be simplified, Saw urged the government to come up with firm, long-term policies.

“If not, there could be irreparable damage to the industry,” The Star quoted him as saying.

Malaysian Malay Businessmen and Industrialists Association president Moehamad Izat Emir said the Immigration Department move could affect the cash flow, leading to a financial disruption in the industry.

“While I support the department’s action, at the same time, there has to be a two-way traffic. If the industry expects the Immigration Department to be considerate, they must also be responsible,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.

Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Indus­try President Kenneth Eswaran was quoted as saying the government should get its long-term policy right instead of penalising employers.

He said many businesses were already suffering from the freeze on foreign worker intake earlier this year.