KUCHING: The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee’s (SDMC) decision to allow foreign workers into the state effective this month would bring relief to businesses and households.
Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) Kuching chairman Datuk Sim Kiang Chiok said the recalibration programme is a good method as foreign workers would be properly documented with work permits and would be Covid-19 tested and quarantined for 14 days before they are allowed to start their employment.
“This would help us solve our labour shortage to replace those who have left just before the lockdown and not able to re-enter due to borders being closed. Our government is also prime pumping our economy to recover from the several lockdowns, and we need to have these workers to move our various industries and economy, which are facing labour shortages,” he said in a statement yesterday.
“In Sarawak, the foreign labour force is still small compared to the population, about 200,000 to 2.8 million, which is about only 7 per cent, compared to Singapore with about 60 per cent foreign workers to their local population.”
At the same time, the increased fine of RM10,000 for individuals and RM50,000 for companies who break Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) would ensure that employers of foreign workers adhere to the SOPs, he said.
Similarly, he said the penalties for employers and agents who bring illegal immigrants into the state is very high, including a jail term and caning, which has deterred the practice of hiring illegals.
According to Sim, the balance between life and livelihood is a fine art of science and good governance; and the country cannot be in permanent lockdown, which would save lives but destroy livelihoods.
“Allowing foreign workers into the state to help to generate productive works for our industries will help us to resume, restore, and grow our economy again. With the availability and rolling out of Covid-19 vaccines, we would be able to restore our way of life as before when we have achieved herd immunity by vaccinating 80 per cent of our population.
“So the ability to protect our health and regain our economy simultaneously will be the best outcome for all Sarawakians when we beat this pandemic,” he added.