Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Foreign workers revisited

In my previous post, I was curious whether countries that supply (low-skilled) foreign workers would benefit from these individuals. One thing for sure, the receiving countries would, by allowing the local workforce to pursue higher value activities.

Seems like a good thing.

On the contrary, however, the Malaysian government is proposing a bill that would restrict foreign workers to their work sites unless they receive special permission to leave.

Home Minister Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said: "We are not trying to confine the foreign workers ... but it will be better to supervise them for law enforcement."

In the same article, Police Chief Musa Hassan said that foreign laborers may be restricted to their living quarters and their "activities monitored" as part of efforts to curb crime. Under the proposed legislation, foreign laborers will not be allowed to leave their homes unless they register beforehand, and their employers will be responsible their movements.

Not allowed to leave their homes?

Musa further added that about 5,000 crimes were committed by foreigners last year from a total of about 230,000 (232,620 cases, to be exact).

That's not even 3% of the total crimes committed...

Typically, people use the 80-20 rule, a general assumption that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes. Although it's highly dependent on how one stratifies the causes, but if foreigners-related crime is one of the causes, 3% is definitely too low to even spend resources for.

Unless, of course, there are other reasons.

But still, this doesn't feel right. Like a foreign construction worker said in the article: "To keep us in our beds when we have a day off is criminal."

There's gotta be a better, more effective way.