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Press statement by Teresa Kok Suh Sim in Shah Alam on Monday, 31st May 2010:

Our industries will continue to suffer from labour shortage until the Government quits flip-flopping and give MIDA the mandate to lead in formulating Malaysia's labour policy

The labour shortage in the manufacturing sector has increasingly debilitated the operations of investors in West Malaysia, particularly Selangor. I therefore urge the government to give Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) the mandate to lead in formulating Malaysia's labour policy when it comes to Malaysia's industries because MIDA is in the best position to know the hiring needs of investors in Malaysia, and best able to advise the Human Resources Ministry and the Immigration Department.

In turn, the Human Resources Ministry and the Immigration Department must cooperate by awarding the necessary approvals to industrial projects which MIDA has already vetted and approved, instead of giving industrialists the runaround.

If the Federal Government continues to ignore the labour shortage faced by investors and industrialists, Najib's New Economic Model is doomed to fail.

The Federal Government's constantly flip-flopping labour policy exacerbates our labour shortage problem, drives investors away and makes Malaysia lose our competitiveness.

Investors have long complained of their inability to recruit enough workers and how it has prevented them from expanding their factories and opening new ones.

It was thus foolish of the Federal Government to have frozen recruitment of migrant workers and suddenly stopped renewing work permits without warning in the past. These flip-flopping policies have given investors the impression that Malaysia is not pro-business.

When the Federal Government takes our investors' complaint so lightly, it is no wonder that many have begun to pull their investments out of Malaysia in favour our neighbouring countries. This is especially true in the state of Selangor, which contributes up to 35% of Malaysia¡¯s GDP.

I also urge the Federal Government to grant temporary work permits to the 90,000 refugees in Malaysia to help ease the labour shortage. Refugees in Malaysia are forced to be idle despite being able-bodied because they are not granted work permits. Malaysia would do better by allowing them to be productive while at the same time helping to resolve the labour shortage challenge in Malaysia.

If the Federal Government does not resolve this labour shortage issue, the worst thing that could happen is not only do we fail to become a high-income society as lauded by Najib's New Economic Model, we will also lose our investors, lose our competitiveness and lose all confidence in Najib as Prime Minister.

* Teresa Kok Suh Sim, Selangor State Senior EXCO & MP for Seputeh



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