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Is It Time to Start Hiring Ex-convicts?

Mohamad Danial bin Ab Khalil
by Mohamad Danial bin Ab Khalil
Aug 13, 2022 at 11:55 PM

According to the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), one strategy for employers to deal with the labour crisis is to hire those who have served their sentences but are now on parole.


Helping parolees reintegrate into society

MEF president Datuk Syed Hussain Syed Husman stated that hiring parolees will help them reintegrate into society and prevent them from relapsing into criminal activities. He added that employers shouldn't worry too much because parole is only granted to minor offences and merit a second opportunity.

According to him, parolees would not be able to fill all openings because it would rely on their existing talents and how quickly they could learn the requisite skills.

"Those employed should also not be deemed as temporary replacements for migrant workers but rather an additional source of labour," he said.

He cited the Human Resource Development Fund's (HRDF) Second Chances and Opportunities for People to Excel initiative, which provides skill training and job opportunities to former inmates, saying it will minimise the number of repeat criminals.

"We can also minimise the prison population and our reliance on foreign labour."

He stated that more than 1,000 former inmates were given job offers in construction, transportation, farming, plantations, and services sectors as part of phase one of the HRDF initiative.


A win-win situation for employers and parolees

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said they could hire prisoners on parole on a case-by-case basis after background checks and that they would be better suited to start in restaurant kitchens and be integrated over time into the front-end and deal with customers.

He said he had discussed the integration of such prisoners into restaurants with administrators from the Sungai Buloh prison. At least two eateries in Penang have hired parolees, and other businesses in the Klang Valley are also willing to accept them.

Malaysia's oldest nasi kandar restaurant Hameediyah Restaurant began hiring parolees two years ago and currently employs 50 such inmates. There are now six such parolees employed there.

The restaurant's director, Muhammad Riyaaz Syed Ibrahim, said that they were not at all difficult. He said he was relieved to be a part of the prison's parole programme since it helps with their labour deficit.

He further stated that the parolees take their work seriously and are eager to succeed and be granted a second opportunity. The parolees are paid RM1,500 minimum salary for the same eight hours of work and are given lodging in hostels near the restaurant.


Other sectors consider hiring ex-convicts

Datuk V. Harikrishnan, the owner of the banana leaf restaurant Ananda Bahwan, said the parolees working at his restaurants come from various backgrounds and races, and they are all committed to their jobs and want to transform their lives. 

About 100 parolees had worked at the restaurant's branches, ten presently working in Penang.

The Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners (Maho) reported last week that local hotels are considering hiring the formerly incarcerated to fill labour shortages.

Apart from past inmates, hotels are considering hiring parolees, Orang Asli, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees cardholders to fill vacancies, particularly in the kitchen and housekeeping departments.


Source: Malay Mail