Trade group says barring foreign workers from US, others over Covid-19 could cost Malaysia millions

Das said AMCHAM was concerned that the ban based on nationality as opposed to travellers’ port of departure could create confusion. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Das said AMCHAM was concerned that the ban based on nationality as opposed to travellers’ port of departure could create confusion. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― The American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) said the blanket entry ban on citizens from 12 countries including the US would cause millions in losses to trade and businesses here.

AMCHAM chief executive Siobhan Das said the lack of details on the ban that also affected migrant workers with employment passes (EP) and professional visitor passes (PVP) would harm Malaysia’s image as a reliable destination for businesses and investment.

“Within our membership, these categories would severely impact the immediate operations of some of the country’s largest investors.

“In the E&E sector, for example, a sector that contributes to the overall health of the country’s economy, this blanket ban denies companies access not only to senior executives but critical technical talent that is needed to ensure Malaysian-based entities are able to meet global supply chain demands.

“While Malaysia has seen recent investments come to its shores, this new ban undermines the ability for companies to use needed specialists to set-up, install, and certify new equipment needed for starting or expanding operations.

“Also impacted are global decision-making personnel that work out of hubs now located in the country. Malaysia’s uncertain business environment will cast a pall on current and future deliberations for Foreign Direct Investments,” she said in a statement today.

Das added that while her group understood the need for countermeasures against Covid-19, these should be introduced after careful consideration and sufficient notice.

She said AMCHAM was concerned that the ban based on nationality as opposed to travellers’ port of departure could create confusion, arguing that nationality was not a reliable indicator of a person’s Covid-19 risk status.

“AMCHAM urges the government to reconsider the blanket ban and to instead focus on improving the current immigration communication and expediting processes and, to collaborate with the business community towards the common goal of a healthy and economically vibrant recovery.

“It is our view that Malaysia has been managing the pandemic well and there are currently sufficient controls and SOPs in place. We look forward to working together to improve where we are already,” said Das.

Yesterday, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the government will impose disallow entry to citizens of countries with over 150,000 Covid-19 cases starting next Monday (September 7).

He said these included the US, Brazil, France, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Bangladesh, as well as three countries announced previously, namely India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The ban involves six categories of pass holders: permanent residents (PR), Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H) participants, migrant workers including PVP holders and resident pass holders.

Also barred were spouses of Malaysian citizens and their children as well as Malaysian students in the affected countries.

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