PETALING JAYA: Employers’ groups and trade associations have welcomed the Human Resources Ministry’s proposal for prison records to be kept confidential to ensure these individuals are able to join the workforce.

According to The Malaysian Insight, the employers’ groups reacted to Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan’s(pix) suggestion that prison records be kept confidential and exclusive to certain government departments and the police, and not to third parties like employers.

Ding Hong Sing, president of the SME Association of Malaysia, said society generally has a wrong opinion of those with prison records.

“If an individual wants to come back to the workforce but everyone knows that he has been to jail, there is already a stigma and it might affect their self-confidence.

“It is best that prison records are kept confidential in such instances,“ he told The Malaysian Insight.

Ding, who is in the food industry, also discussed with the Prisons Department on recruiting ex-convicts to the workplace.

“Last year, I met with a prison director and we talked about how to assist those who have been released from prison.

“The food industry has now started recruiting former prisoners due to a lack of staff. There are now several of them in the workforce,“ he said.

While they may lack work experience, the company and the person in charge will provide training as long as these individuals are willing to learn, Ding added.

“Everyone makes mistakes, but they deserve another chance. We are willing to give them an opportunity as long as they don’t squander it,“ he further noted.

Ding acknowledged that while he is open to recruiting ex-prisoners, not all employers feel the same way.

He said the quality of a worker can be judged by their performance and attitude, not whether they have a prison record.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Garments Wholesale Merchants Association president Datuk Ang Say Tee said that having a prison record does not mean one will perpetually be a bad person.

“It is a good move to reintegrate former prisoners into society,” Ang responded to Saravanan’s proposal.

As to the possible dangers or consequences of hiring prisoners, Ang, like Ding, said any employee, with or without a prison record, will have to work hard and perform well to earn the company’s trust.

Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors Association president Wong Teu Hoon said that it is quite common for employers in the restaurant business to hire ex-prisoners.

Wong said that when interviewing for jobs, those who have prison records are generally forthcoming and inform their potential employers of their status.

“They are upfront so that we understand their past and why they were in prison. Most bosses in the food and coffee shop business will hire them.

“The only worry is if they were drug users. They may suffer a relapse and affect their colleagues or they may steal to feed the habit,“ he said.