Sime Darby Plantation Takes Pride in Providing Training and Employment to Parolees Under the Corporate Smart Internship Programme

For Immediate Release
Thursday, 24 September 2020


Sime Darby Plantation Takes Pride in Providing Training and Employment to Parolees Under the Corporate Smart Internship Programme

Kuala Lumpur, 24 September 2020 – In response to recent concerns over the hiring of parolees in its Malaysian operations, Sime Darby Plantation (SDP) reaffirms our pledge and commitment to protecting the rights of all our workers including the parolees who have voluntarily agreed to a paid placement in our plantations under the Corporate Smart Internship (CSI) programme held in collaboration with the Malaysian Prison Department (MPD). The CSI programme launched by the MPD in 2016 aims to assist parolees prepare to be reintegrated into society by equipping them with employable skills. It has seen the participation of around 80 private companies in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.

To further clarify on the CSI programme, we highlight the following:
  1. The parolees undergo a selection process through the Prison Board and are only hired if the selected candidates express an interest to join our workforce, following a briefing by SDP and approval by the Parole board;

  2. The hiring of the parolees under the CSI programme strictly adhered to all applicable labour laws and participation by the parolees is truly voluntary, with the parolees’ formal consent;
  1. ​The parolees hired under the CSI programme are only tasked with general work such as field upkeep, weeding and manuring;

  2. Unlike unpaid community service programmes that are common for parolees both locally and internationally, SDP ensures that the parolees are provided with minimum wages according to the National Minimum Wage Order 2020 and the MAPA/NUPW Collective Bargaining Agreement 2019 that are transferred directly to their own bank accounts.

  3. SDP also ensures the parolees enjoy the same benefits as all our workers do. These include, among others, free housing, subsidised electricity, free potable water of up to 50 gallons every month, as well as an 8 hour a day shift with optional paid overtime.

  4. The option to mutually extend their employment with SDP may be given to the parolees upon completion of their sentence, subject to other criteria such as their work performance and the level of skills they have acquired throughout the programme. 
SDP is proud to be supporting the CSI programme because we realise that assimilating into society whilst being dogged by stigma is not an easy task for most former inmates. Our aspiration in collaborating with MPD through this programme is to help parolees turn over a new leaf and build a better future for themselves and the families.
At SDP, we are committed to respect, support and uphold fundamental human rights as expressed, amongst others, in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Our commitment to human rights is anchored in our Human Rights Charter (established since 2017) as well as our Code of Business Conduct which we strictly adhere to in our day-to-day operations.

SDP does not tolerate any form of exploitation including in the hiring of parolees under the CSI programme. Any attempt by certain quarters to suggest that the CSI programme involves exploitation of the parolees is not only misleading, it is also insensitive towards the plight of parolees who are making the effort to become valuable members of our society.
We further clarify that SDP has been involved in the CSI programme since 2019, even before the issue of labour shortage in the industry arose out of the current travel restrictions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The current labour shortage has set SDP back by almost 3,000 workers, especially harvesters. Even though the CSI programme does provide additional manpower at our operations, the availability of workforce from this section of the community is limited. It is insufficient to address the labour shortage we are currently facing. Furthermore, the parolees are only tasked with general works, and not harvesting works where we have acute shortages.  

Thus, our current focus in solving the labour shortage is to continue our efforts in recruiting qualified and readily available local candidates from the conventional job market, as well as expediting our efforts in mechanisation and automation. Whilst we continue to persuade unemployed locals to join the plantation industry, recruiting foreign workers, especially for harvesting work, remains the main practical solution for us at this point in time due to the lacklustre interest shown by locals despite our recruitment efforts thus far.

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