I spent eight years working in Japan and returned to Malaysia 13 years ago. I now run a small-medium enterprise in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan.
I was rather appalled by Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin’s unbecoming behaviour when he poured cold water on a proposal for Malaysia to send blue-collar workers to Japan.
He had insinuated that Malaysia was going to be a source of labour for the so-called 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs, not unlike how we import workers from neighbouring countries as maids and construction workers.
I am perplexed by Khairy’s carrot-grade understanding of this issue.
The former youth and sports minister obviously has no inkling on what it means to work in Japan. The country is a technological giant in its own right. Workers are able to pick up on so many useful technological skills there.
Back in the day, my peers and I would save up enough to make our way to Japan to work. It was a big deal for us. Malaysians who read Chinese are able to adapt more easily in the Land of the Rising Sun because of the similarities between the Chinese and Japanese writing systems.
While a major draw was the salaries (we could easily save up to RM100,000 over three years), that was not all. We all could learn new skills from the Japanese who are at the technological forefront in many industries.
And let’s not forget about the Japanese work ethnic — something which has been ingrained into its workers.
While it has been years since I returned to Malaysia, I would not have been able to build up my modest production facility had I not been exposed to Japanese technology and its amazing work ethic.
In fact, when I hire my workers, I would give preference to those who had worked in Japan before.
Having had a working stint in Japan does wonders for an employee. If the human resources ministry wants to send workers there by the thousands, we should welcome the move with open arms.
For the Japanese government to accept these people as workers is an admission that the Malaysian workforce is already up to par. Do not forget that in Japan, a lot of things are already automated and there are very few menial jobs around.
Eventually, these people will come back and add value to our nation. There is really no need to play petty politics over this, YB Khairy.
Marcus Chan is an FMT reader
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.