Malaysia’s PM Mahathir Mohamad Cautioned Philippines Against Inflow Of Foreign Workers

Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad and Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte
(Photo: Francis Malasig/Pool via Reuters)

Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's Prime Minister, arrives in the Philippines on Wednesday, March 6, for a two-day official visit. He was invited by the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and will be holding bilateral meetings that will touch on cooperation, economic and political agendas.

A news conference was held on the first day of Mohamad's visit and the 93-year-old leader seemed to have addressed the influx of foreigners in the Philippines when he warned Duterte against it. He said that allowing too many foreigners to stay in the country could lead to disturbance in political equations.

According to ABS-CBN News,  at least 200,000 Chinese have entered the Philippines since Duterte was elected president in 2016. Most of these foreign nationals were employed by gaming companies that operate online and serving Chinese clients. This statistic was revealed last year after a Senate inquiry was held to tackle the matter. 

Government officials in the Philippines were alarmed by the growing number of foreigners working in the country and pointed out that this is worrisome because Filipinos lose job opportunities to them. They also alleged that this can lead to an increase in property prices and may even have a negative impact on tax revenues.  

In his television interview, Mahathir said, "Foreign direct investment should not involve bringing huge numbers of foreigners to live in the country because that might disturb the political equations in the country."

He added, "If huge numbers of any foreigners come to live and stay in the country or to even influence the economy of a country, then you have to do some rethinking as to whether it is good or bad or the limits that you have to impose on them."

Mahathir Mohamad and Rodrigo Duterte also briefly discuss the conflict in the South China Sea and both leaders stated that in dealing with the issues, they are committed to complying with the rulings, "in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law."

Malaysia's PM and the Philippine President said in a joint statement, "We emphasized the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation and flight over the South China Sea, as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes."

Meanwhile, President Duterte and Prime Minister Mahathir previously vowed to achieve stronger bilateral cooperation between their respective countries. They met last year after watching the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse that was held at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, PhilStar reported.

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