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Saturday, January 3, 1998 Published at 11:52 GMT


Malaysia considers deportations
image: [ The government in Kuala Lumpur is acting to preserve jobs for its own people ]
The government in Kuala Lumpur is acting to preserve jobs for its own people

Authorities in Malaysia say they may have to deport up to a million foreign workers in the coming year as a result of the economic crisis affecting many countries in south-east Asia.

The government estimates one million of its own people are threatened with unemployment. "This loss means that foreign workers must give up their jobs to the locals," Deputy Home Minister Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali was reported as saying by the daily Star newspaper on Saturday.

Many people facing deportation come from Indonesia, where it is estimated that up to two million people have lost their jobs since the crisis struck there last July.

Other potential deportees are from India, Bangladesh and Thailand.

In a similar move in Thailand, where thousands have been made redundant, a police campaign has been launched to find and expel thousands of Burmese, Cambodian and other foreigners working illegally.

The Malaysian minister said his department had frozen new applications and renewal of work permits in certain service sectors, except for domestic maids, and plans to redeploy existing labour to the plantation and export-oriented sectors.

"Any foreign worker who has worked here for three years and has no criminal record may be redeployed to other sectors," he added.

The Deputy Home Minister said Malaysia's growing population of foreign workers, estimated at about two million, was caused by employers who wanted cheap labour as well as local workers who were too choosy.

"Back then, Malaysian workers only wanted highly-paid jobs but with the economic downturn, this may not be possible," he said, adding that the government could not afford to be generous to others in hard times.


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