It is compulsory for all employers applying to hire foreign workers to do so online starting April 1, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Ahmad Zahid who is also Home Minister, said the ruling was applicable for applications for foreign workers from all source countries, except for foreign domestic helpers.

He said the measure was taken to ensure employers were not cheated by employment agents and paying extra costs, besides preventing the agents from taking advantage of foreign workers that were in dire straits.

"The decision on compulsory online application was made in the interest of all so that the Home Ministry and Immigration Department will not continue to be hurled with various accusations," he told reporters after the ministry's monthly assembly, here, today.

Earlier, in his speech at the assembly, Ahmad Zahid said previously the applications could be made manually or through agents who collected unreasonable service charges imposed on the foreign workers to be hired.

Ahmad Zahid slammed agents who take advantage of the hardship of foreign workers who are desperate for employment.

"Those who want to work here are poor, and they pay tens of thousands of ringgit by selling their house, their land and borrowing from ah long (loan sharks) in their own countries.

"When (they) come in here in droves, no employers take them and in the end, they lose their property while their wives and children are hunted down by the loan sharks," he said. -- Bernama