PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has come under fire for claiming that migrant workers are enjoying food subsidies meant for Malaysians
Irene Xavier of Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor said: “They are not living here for free. It is unfair for Ismail to make such a statement as levies have been paid to the immigration department for migrants to work in Malaysia.”
According to the 2022 budget estimates, levy collection from migrant workers is estimated to be about RM1.7 billion this year.
“What the prime minister is saying is baseless. He needs to let us know where all the levies go. Who has benefited from them? I am sure it is not the migrants,” Xavier said.
On Saturday, Ismail was reported as saying that Bangladeshi migrant workers and Rohingya refugees are benefiting from the food subsidies funded by Malaysian taxpayers.
Xavier said Ismail had forgotten that the migrant community had helped to keep the economy running by doing the jobs that Malaysians will not take up, for less pay under harsh conditions.
Adrian Pereira of the North-South Initiative said migrant workers were, in a sense, subsidising Malaysians through payment of sales tax, migrant worker recruitment costs, and rent and utility bills.
Independent migrants rights activist Andy Hall said Ismail’s comment amounted to “gutter politics” as migrant workers contributed a lot to the country, with their high level of productivity often attributed to labour exploitation.