By Balan Moses
KUALA LUMPUR: Pakistan is set to join Indonesia, Bangladesh and Myanmar as a primary source of foreign labour for Malaysia, with a three-fold increase in workers, taking their numbers to 100,000 by December next year.
Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia, Lt-Gen (Rtd) Tahir Mahmud Qazi, said this would help meet the expected boom in construction activities following the creation of various corridors of development in the country.
He said the Iskandar Development Region in Johor was expected to provide jobs for many of the new workers next year.
"By December next year, I expect the number of Pakistani workers in the country to increase to 100,000. This will be the culmination of joint efforts to bring them here to assist in the development of Malaysia," he said in an interview.
|Pakistan High Commissioner to Malaysia Lt-Gen (Rtd) Tahir Mahmud Qazi says Pakistanis are hardworking.|
He said the expected influx was the result of a memorandum of understanding signed between the two governments in 2005.
He said there were about 30,000 Pakistani workers here, with most in the construction industry.
"We want more of them to come here to work. They have a proven track record of being hardworking and dependable," he said, adding that the soft economic climate here had led to a reduction in arrivals this year.
He said Pakistani workers were hardy and had made a name for themselves in the Middle East due to their ability to adapt to local conditions besides their skills in the building industry.
"They have been doing very well in Malaysia, too, as they have been able to work well with local employers."
Tahir said the High Commission was liaising with the Construction Industry Development Board of Malaysia on the anticipated need for Pakistani workers in the short- and long-term.
On Pakistan-Malaysia trade relations, he said they were expected to improve with the prospective development of an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in Pakistan for Malaysian investors.
He said "two or three places" had been shortlisted for the project, which is expected to take off soon.
Tahir said the EEZ would be close to a port, a readily-available source of labour, and communication facilities.
He said he would be making an official proposal to the Malaysian government soon on the matter after finalising details of the EEZ with Malaysian investors interested in the project.
He said senior Pakistani trade officials would be here next month to introduce investment opportunities to the Malaysian business community.
"There are huge opportunities awaiting Malaysian businessmen in Pakistan. We need a variety of goods and services, including hypermarkets, communication, information technology facilities and low-cost housing."
Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Malaysia rose from US$835 million (RM2.9 billion) in 2006 to US$1.8 billion last year. - NST