PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian government is being irrational in prohibiting Malaysians from working on Australian farms, says Ipoh Barat MP and former human resources minister M Kula Segaran.
Deputy human resources minister Awang Hashim had told the Dewan Negara that Malaysians would be banned from participating in the Asean farm worker visa scheme introduced by the Australian government as it is geared towards offering permanent residency.
Kula said it was not the government’s place to deny Malaysians well-paying opportunities overseas.
In a statement, he said their earnings from working in other countries would eventually flow back into the country. They would also be able to gain valuable skills, ideas and technological expertise.
“I appeal to the prime minister to reverse this irrational decision by the human resources ministry and urge his Cabinet to be more sensitive to the plight of the average Malaysian who wants to earn an honest living and feed families in the best way they can.”
He said the Australian government had made the right call to have a formal agreement with all countries, including Malaysia, arguing that the farmers scheme was one of the solutions to curb the exploitation of Malaysians working on Australian farms.
“Is Malaysia also going to call back all 500,000 odd Malaysian workers working in Singapore and other countries?
“The government should look into ways to up-skill and reskill workers without denying them their human rights to progress elsewhere.”
The Asean farm worker visa scheme was ratified by the Australian governor-general last week. It would allow Asean skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled farm workers to enter into agreements with Australian farms.
One report has suggested that farm workers and farmers accessing this visa scheme could earn as much as RM12,000 to RM15,000 a month.
This compares with the RM2,000 wages that the government is encouraging the unemployed to take up in local oil palm plantations.