PETALING JAYA: Youths should be taught to tap rubber, harvest oil palm and grow rice through a new agricultural national service, former Bank Negara deputy governor Arshad Ayub has suggested.
This, he said, would slowly help to replace the millions of foreign workers in the country.
This could be done by raising the wages of those working in these areas to entice the young to get involved, said the man who was born into a rubber tapper family and worked his way up to become secretary-general of three ministries – agriculture, primary industries, and the ministry of land and regional development.
“We have millions of foreign workers, which is worrying. How to get rid of them? In national service for about six months, our youths learn discipline.
“Why don’t we have an agricultural national service where our young learn to tap rubber, work in the oil palm industry, and learn to grow rice, and help the country to go green,” he asked.
The 89-year old was speaking at the launch of a book by Anas Alam Faizli titled Rich Malaysia, Poor Malaysians at Sunway University
Arshad said his suggestion was aimed at making sure that in 20 to 30 years, Malaysia would be a rich country with rich Malaysians, having high-incomes and productivity.
Asking if the country could achieve a strong local workforce who were skilled and professional, Arshad said: “We should have workers who earn high wages and live comfortably.
“Now, many locals have problems finding a job, or they earn low incomes. But what will happen if the millions of foreign workers leave Malaysia? What kind of state will we be in?
“Maybe the rubber trees will not be tapped, palm trees not harvested, and no tall buildings will be built.”
He added that these were the issues faced by the government if the foreign workers were to leave the country.
He said the problem would only be solved if the young were prepared to work in rubber estates, oil palm estates and the construction sector.