On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Time to tighten rules on PR status

It must be upsetting for these people, who have been
waiting patiently for PR status, to read about cases such as that of the
Bangladeshi woman.

The time has come for our immigration authorities to tighten the rules on PR
status application from Indonesians and Bangladeshis. While we need these
foreigners to perform manual labour, it must be impressed upon them that they
are guests in this country.

We must not lose sight of the fact that we want to attract the best brains to
Malaysia if we wish to compete with our neighbours. The best people,
irrespective of nationality, are needed in various fields.

For example, there are plenty of experts in information technology and medicine
from India. These talents should be offered the carrot to settle in

So are doctors and nurses from Myanmar. If PR status is to be accorded to them,
it should be done so after a period of employment. But the same privilege
cannot be extended to coffee-shop helpers.

Singapore seems to have been able to attract many skilled foreigners, including
Malaysians, with its offer of PR status.

A permanent resident does not enjoy the same rights as a citizen, such as
voting and running for office, but it provides a positive psychological effect.
It's a form of security and offers a sense of legitimacy in a foreign

The action taken by the Home Ministry to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah
is commendable. There should be no let-up of such operations.

It is also interesting to note that the Human Resources Ministry announced last
week that 100,000 to 200,000 Vietnamese would be joining the Malaysian
workforce in the next few months as part of the government-to-government
agreement on foreign labour between the two countries.

Experts from both countries are now working on the framework for a memorandum
of understanding on the guidelines for employment of these workers.

Vietnamese workers who apply for overseas employment would undergo language
classes and training to understand Malaysian laws and regulations.

The participation of these Vietnamese, especially in the construction industry,
will be a good alternative. The first batch of Vietnamese workers can be looked
upon as an experiment and their performance will be watched closely.

In addition to the Vietnamese, the Malaysian authorities should consider
workers from Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

Malaysia has plenty of nearby countries to choose from for labour and should,
therefore, be selective.

Similarly, we should be selective in the granting of PR status.

We cannot afford to be seen as a country where foreigners can enter with ease
and secure PR status after working for a few years. The reputation of Malaysia
is at stake.