Wahid: Foreign worker issue needs immediate attention as planters, glovemakers face forced labour claims

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 9): The Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur (ECKL) advisory council chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar said today Malaysia needs to reform its labour policies to address matters including the country’s foreign worker issue which needs immediate attention amid forced labour allegations against oil palm planters and rubber glove manufacturers.

“This (immediate attention) is [needed] because in line with global commitment towards environmental, social, and governance (ESG), many global businesses will exclude companies that are accused of engaging in forced labour practices and modern slavery from the supply chain. 

"If this spreads to the electrical and electronics (E&E) sector, the damage will be irreparable,” said Abdul Wahid, who is also Bursa Malaysia Bhd chairman.

Abdul Wahid, who was speaking today at The National Recovery Summit, said the forced labour allegations against oil palm planters and rubber glove manufacturers relate to the “bonding" of foreign workers by recruitment agents in the country of origin.

He had highlighted two concerns that the Malaysian government needs to address.

Abdul Wahid said the Malaysian government needs to engage the US government to secure the removal of the US Customs and Border Protection's withhold release orders (WROs) against certain Malaysian companies amid forced labour allegations against these firms.

“Second is in respect of the policy on the appointment of the foreign recruitment agents which charge exorbitant fees to the foreign workers,” he said.

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