GOOD NEWS FROM SARAWAK FOR FOREIGN WORKERS IN THE MIDST OF PANDEMIC, KUCHING -  State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has decided to allow the recruitment of foreign workers to Sarawak with effect from Jan 1, 2021.

In announcing this, its chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said the committee’s latest decision was in view of the number of positive Covid-19 cases in the state involving illegal immigrants.

“If you’ve noticed, in the last few weeks, a lot of the positive Covid-19 cases in Sarawak involved PATI.

“After taking into consideration, we decided to allow the recruitment of foreign workers to Sarawak and hope that by doing so, the entry of illegal immigrants can be reduced and as such, the source of positive Covid-19 cases will also go down,” he told a press conference here today.

Uggah, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, said however, employers who wish to recruit foreign workers into the state must follow several standard operating procedures (SOP) that have been set in place.

”They must apply and comply with the admission procedure for foreign workers to Sarawak which will be submitted to the State Immigration Department,” he said.

He also said that employers must also provide transportation for their foreign workers who arrive at the entry point of Sarawak.

“For instance, when a company has ten foreign workers from Indonesia coming in, when they arrive at the border, the employer must provide transport for them.

“The workers cannot use public transport because we don’t know their health conditions. The transportation must also follow the State Health Department SOP and from there directly head to the quarantine centre.

“We do not want any loophole where these foreign workers get into close contact with the public,” he explained.

The cost of the quarantine and Covid-19 test on the foreign workers will be borne by the employers themselves, he added.

He stressed that the foreign workers must also obtain the work permit first before entering Sarawak.

“Before a foreign worker comes in, he or she must have an employer. They cannot come to Sarawak themselves,” he said.

Asked if the state has set any limit for a company to employ the number of foreign workers, Uggah said there was none as the state understood that companies such as those involved in the oil palm industry required a lot of workers.

“That’s why there were a lot of illegal PATI coming in to Sarawak so we want to stop that.

“With the number of Covid-19 cases in Sarawak flattening, we also look at the balance between economic requirement and health and that’s why this issue has been deliberated,” he said.

He said SDMC will continue to monitor the situation and should the number of positive Covid-19 cases increase, the committee will take the necessary action.

“At the moment, we are addressing the economic requirement,” he said.

Also present at the press conference were Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian and State Health Department director Dr Chin Zin Hing.

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