"Our industries are suffering due to the shortage of workers. We will do whatever is necessary to overcome the problem," Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said.
Malaysia estimates it needs at least 200,000 more workers in the manufacturing sector, as well as 150,000 in the construction industry and 50,000 in plantations.
But last October, Malaysia told illegal immigrants that they would be kicked out unless they obtained necessary documentation. Since March 1, about 3,000 have been fined or arrested for violating the law, while about 400,000 are believed to have gone into hiding.
The Malaysian government said it would favor Pakistanis as they have more experience in working overseas than other nationalities.
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