03/13/2018, 13.45
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Immigration: foreign workers allowed ‘only in the kitchens', no contacts with the public

Labour shortages threaten traditional ethnic restaurants. About 2,000 Chinese coffee shops and 400 Indo-Muslim and banana leaf restaurants have ceased their activity in 2017. Some 71,515 foreign workers are legally employed in the restaurant sector. Since January, the authorities have carried out 3,844 raids and detained 10,378 foreigners on immigration offences.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Foreign workers can be employed in restaurants and eateries but only as cooks and not as frontline staff in contact with customers, this according to the Immigration Department.

Responding to an appeal to the government by business associations concerned that labour shortages threatened their activities, Immigration Department Director-General Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said the policy of not allowing foreign workers to be employed as frontliners remains for now.

Some 2,000 Chinese coffee shops and 400 Indian-Muslim and banana leaf restaurants ceased operations last year and the situation could get worse as thousands of foreign workers who went back to their home country during the Chinese New Year festive break did not return.

The business associations – the Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors' General Association (MSCP), the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Presma), and the Malaysian Indian-Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Primas) – have complained about the stricter rules on hiring foreigners and noted that it is hard for their members to meet the new rules.

Mustafar said that despite the immigration regulation being clear on this point, checks carried out by the Department shows otherwise, with many outlets hiring workers as cashiers, salespersons, waiters and waitresses.

"This is very unfortunate because it shows that employers disregard the law. Their actions contribute to the influx of illegal foreign workers as there is high demand for them," he said.

There are now 71,515 foreign workers legally employed in Malaysia’s restaurant sector.

According to Immigration records, the Immigration Department conducted 3,844 enforcement raids since January, of which 47,129 foreigners were examined.

These operations resulted in 10,378 foreigners being detained for various Immigration offences.

"We also conducted checks on 558 restaurants and checked 3,682 foreign workers. From here, we detained 1,162 people and 40 employers," Mustafar said.

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