The Malaysian government has decided to halt the recruitment of new foreign workers into the country, including the 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers.
The decision comes nearly a month after Bangladesh inked a deal to send 1.5 million workers to Malaysia under Government to Government Plus mechanism.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi made the announcement on Saturday, Malaysian newspaper The Star reported.
He said this also meant that the initial plan to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers was officially scrapped.
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"There will not be one, let alone 1.5 million new foreign workers coming into our country," he added.
"Employers who need workers will have to apply to legalise existing foreigners in the country without work permits or whose permits have expired," Ahmad Zahid was quoted by The Star.
He also said employers had until June 30 to legalise such foreign workers.
"The government is bringing forward the deadline from Dec 31 because employers continuously ignore the chances given to them," Ahmad went on.
"Instead, the government is criticised and pressured. If they can't hire anyone, they should just get the Malaysian Employers Federation, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers and Malaysian Trade Union Congress to help them find locals to do the job," he said.
Earlier on February 19, Malaysia took the decision to freeze all recruitment of foreign workers.
However, a day after the decision Malaysian Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot, in a statement, said that the decision of the Malaysian government to "freeze all recruitment" of foreign workers will not affect the validity of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Bangladesh.