KUCHING: Assistant Minister of Housing Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah believes that there is nothing wrong with Sarawakians requesting to be given priority by Petronas when hiring employees for its Sarawak operation.
“The call, I believe, is reasonable and there’s nothing abnormal to it or it being blown out of proportion by certain quarters.
“I don’t think it’s wrong for Sarawakians to request for Sarawakians to be given priority. This is one of the fears raised up by our forefathers when they negotiated the formation of Malaysia in 1963, which has led to Sarawak being given the autonomy in immigration and for ‘outsiders’ to apply for ‘work permit’ if they want to work in Sarawak,” he said.
Abdul Karim was commenting on Malaysian Trade Unions Congress (MTUC) Sarawak chairman Mohd Ibrahim Hamid’s statement that competency must not be compromised in the effort to prioritise the hiring of Sarawakians.
“Yes, I fully agree that competency must not be compromised when placing priority on hiring locals. (But) the call by various quarters in Sarawak the last few weeks was for priority to be given to Sarawakians when Petronas or its related companies were to scout for employees in its Sarawak Operation.
“If there is no Sarawakian who is qualified, surely an expatriate or anyone from outside Sarawak will have to be chosen.”
Abdul Karim, who is also Assistant Minister of Youth and Sport, said the fact that this matter was being discussed now after more than 50 years after Malaysia was born, showed that there was unhappiness among Sarawakians and that there might have been a compromise being done, or leakages in the system that needed to be ratified.
“The interested parties just need to relook into this and if need be, make the necessary ratifications. If there isn’t any leakage, just continue on and it’s a reflection that Petronas has been adhering to what is expected of them.”
The Petronas staff issue in the state has been hogging the limelight ever since it was highlighted by Suarah Petroleum Group (SPG), following the abolishment of 29 permanent positions that resulted in the retrenchment of 13 experienced personnel from Sarawak by Petronas in its upstream restructuring exercise in the state recently.
SPG president Hamim Yusuf said the majority of senior jobs were also filled by non-Sarawakians, and the influx of Peninsular Malaysians filling the lower level jobs exacerbated the situation for the state.
Since then, leaders from both sides of the political divide have been urging the state government to act fast to stop workers from other states from working in the state at the expense of the locals.