Malaysia relies heavily on foreign labour especially from India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal to help out at its construction, plantation and restaurant industry.
However, with the global financial crisis hitting manufacturing companies here, several Malaysian workers have lost their jobs.
The government has been mulling for sometime the idea of cutting down reliance on foreign labour and employing Malaysians instead.
The Malaysians usually do not work in these industries, complaining of low wages. Meanwhile, the Malaysian cabinet has also decided on a total freeze of Bangladeshi workers.
Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, who announced the cabinet's decision on the matter on Wednesday.
"My ministry is investigating some of the companies for breaching rules in bringing in the foreign workers. If they are guilty of the offence, their licences will be revoked, Hussein said. "We want only genuine companies to conduct the outsourcing," he was quoted by local media as saying.
He said the government was aware of the fact that certain sectors could not survive without foreign workers.
"From now on, three ministries -- namely Human Resources; International Trade and Industry; and Plantation Industries and Commodities -- will decide on the need of foreign workers in the sectors that need foreign manpower," he said.
"These ministries will forward their list to the Home Ministry for vetting of the foreign workers," he added.
Indian cooks, barbers may lose jobs
Indian cooks and barbers may soon find it difficult to get jobs in Malaysia as the government plans to train and employ locals in these fields.
Malaysian Indian restaurants will employ local cooks and not import chefs from India in the future, Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam said.
"We hope to reduce the number of cooks from India in stages, especially in Malaysian Indian restaurants, once the first batch of locally-trained chefs graduate," he said at a local training school.
He said there had been encouraging response from locals to be trained as cooks under a ministry programme.
Dr Subramaniam said the fees for the trainees were borne by the ministry through the Human Resources Development Fund, adding that they would also receive monthly allowances.
"Once they graduate, they will be able to open their own restaurants," he said, adding that the future was promising for ethnic Indian youths.
The minister said the idea was mooted by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who wanted the ministry to train local chefs and not depend on cooks from India.
Another training programme undertaken by the ministry was hair-styling, to replace barbers from India, he added.
"We want the two sectors (restaurants and hair salons/barber shops) to rely less on foreign workers and employ locally-trained people," he said.