Restaurant operators urge FOMEMA to postpone the fee increase decision

KUALA LUMPUR – Several restaurant operators’ associations objected to the decision of the Foreign Workers’ Medical Examination (FOMEMA) which increased the fees and frequency of examinations for foreign workers without any prior discussion.

In fact, they insisted that the decision be postponed and a dialogue session should be held so that a ‘win-win’ decision can be reached by all parties involved.

The president of Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Entrepreneurs (PRESMA), Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan, who represented all the associations, said that the association only found out about the annual increase in health fees for employees when they visited the FOMEMA website.

“The question of association, what is the rationale behind the decision?

“We feel aggrieved because until now, there has been no official announcement from the government regarding the increase made by Fomema, which was enforced from December 16,” he said at a press conference here today.

Jawahar said, previously, foreign workers had to have a health check-up for up to three years continuously and did not have to have any health check-ups for up to seven years.

He said, the requirement for a health check-up was then changed to every alternate year which means that one year a health check-up is required and the following year it is not necessary but now it has been changed to be carried out every year.

He added that FOMEMA also unilaterally raised fees by 10 to 14 percent and it involved about two million foreign workers.

This means that employers have to bear the cost of about RM414 million a year for the FOMEMA medical examination of their foreign workers.

“We urge the relevant parties to hold a discussion or consultation first with the stake holders before making any decisions or changes.

“We object to the decision and call on Fomema to maintain the fee and frequency of health checks for foreign workers as before,” he said.

He explained that before the announcement of the increase in the medical examination fee for foreign workers, the charge by FOMEMA was RM190 for men and RM207 for female foreign workers covering screening for HIV, Hepatitis B, syphilis, pregnancy and including the use of opiates and cannabis.

However, now, the fee has been increased to RM207 for men and RM217 for women and expanded to three new categories, namely filariasis (ringworm), Hepatitis C and methamphetamine.

“FOMEMA often gives “failed” blood test results when foreign workers are found to have excess sugar and high blood pressure.

“Both of these conditions are not contagious and can be treated.

“We understand that countries like the UAE and Singapore that have many foreign workers do not practice this kind of thing.

“We also want to call on FOMEMA to review this matter. The health screening test in both countries is once every two years,” he said.

He added that a copy of the health test report must also be given to the employer so that the employer can keep it for reference.

Currently, he said, FOMEMA does not provide copies of test reports to either employees or employers.

“This is unfair because the employer pays the cost of the health test,” he said.

Asked if there was an effort to hold a meeting with FOMEMA to find a solution, Jawahar said, it has been held many times.

However, he said, the objection seemed to be ignored until the decision to raise the fee was made by FOMEMA itself.

“Many times we have had meetings with them…but, that’s how it is. It’s like meeting just to drink tea and eat cake,” he said sarcastically

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