KUCHING: The Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) has welcomed Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s approval for foreign workers to return to Sarawak starting this month.
Thanking the state government for the decision to allow 27,000 foreign workers into Sarawak with stricter standard operating procedures (SOP), Soppoa said the palm oil industry as well as other business sectors in Sarawak should be able to survive and continue to operate more efficiently to avoid business losses or closures.
It said this was a major step to eliminate undocumented workers coming into the state as previously highlighted by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
“On behalf of the palm oil industry in Sarawak, Soppoa would like to say ‘Thank you!’ to Abang Johari for his consent, understanding, and support to the industry here,” said Soppoa chairman David Tiong in a statement.
Apart from allowing new foreign workers to enter, Soppoa said the Sarawak government was also allowing the recalibration of foreign workers with expired documents to extend their work permits in Sarawak, which would help prevent the outflow of healthy foreign workers already in the state.
“The palm oil industry in Sarawak has been plagued with continuous acute labour shortage, as well as low crop yields, low mill OER, pests and diseases, soils and climatic issues, affecting crop yields, which is performing well below those achieved in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah. With healthy foreign workers now allowed to enter, this No 1 palm oil industry issue should be resolved amiably by the quick intervention of the caring Sarawak state government with strong leadership, good foresight, compassion, and help for the continuous economical development of the palm oil industry here.
“Plantations and other sectors who are employing foreign workers must reciprocate the good gesture from the state government by fully cooperating, practising, and complying with the strict Covid-19 prevention SOP at all times,” added Soppoa.