No freeze on Indian workers:Malaysian Govt

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Singapore, Jan 10: The Malaysian government has reiterated that there was no freeze on the intake of workers and professionals from India. Home Affairs Minister Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said a report by a foreign wire agency about a ban on workers and professionals from India was disturbing.''I categorically state that the Ministry has never come up with such a ruling or policy to stop the intake of workers from India, what more the professionals,'' Malaysian media reports today quoted the Minister as saying in Kuala Lumpur.

But he disclosed that some employers were uncomfortable in employing workers from India due to the November 25, 2007 demonstration by the minority ethnic Indians in the country, who had highlighted their plight of being left out of the economic prosperity in Malaysia.

Mr Radzi pointed out that the confusion might have stemmed from the Malaysian government's decision in October last year to freeze the intake of workers from Bangladesh due to several social problems. In 1999, the government stopped the intake of Bangladeshi workers as a result of the social problems that had arisen from their presence in the country, he added.

Malaysia and India are to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the issue of Indians working in the country. Mr Radzi said he was confident that the MoU would remain valid.

Nevertheless, Malaysia would continue to consider on case-by-case basis applications for permits to employ Hindu priests, temple musicians and sculptors by Malaysian temples, Mr Radzi assured.

This is because the number of foreigners working in the temples had reached 5,468, he said.

''Some of the priests have been in the country for more than 10 years and it is time for us to sit down and look at whether it is necessary to renew their permits. I am sure there are qualified locals for the job,'' he was quoted as saying.

He pointed out that the check on these temple employees also applies to Buddhist Monks and Muslim ulamaks or imams and religious figures of all religions.

The government adopted more stringent and careful process for approving applications for such foreigners in November.


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