Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You've Never Lived a Working Life Until You've Lived Through a DI.

Hahaha. Not really.

But a DI enriches your working experience in ways like no other ways can enrich your working experience. No matter which side of the fence you're on, whether you are the inquiror or the inquiree, emerge victorious or traumatised, a DI will leave its footprint in your inner being long after it's over.

I am fresh from yet another DI today. Prosecution isn't the sweetest of jobs. It doesn't gain you friends (especially if you are well-prepared prosecutor, compliant with the 10 DI steps and then some) and your colleagues, especially the alleged employee, will undoubtedly see the less friendly (or should I say just plain mean) side of you as they become the sausages on your interrogating grill.

But it's a job. It's MY job. And my job is to defend the Company. So take it personally.

That's right, everything's personal in every DI. What's not personal in a DI?

  • The entire thing sparks off with the intention to create a come-uppance (personal)
  • The alleged employee would be pissed off that someone has reported him/her and will go all out to exact revenge (a grudge is personal)
  • If evidence to support the allegations are overwhelming the alleged employee will accuse the Company of witchhunting (getting personal)
  • Witnesses for the prosecution will relish the opportunity to contribute to the downfall of their less-popular colleague (personal)
  • The prosecutor gets to bask in glory as the defence crumbles in his/her hand (oh come on, no one hates to win) (definitely personal)
  • The panel get a breather of their usual routine work for a bit to amuse themselves with some court-room antics (or spectator-sport, when things get rough) (indulgences are personal)
  • The whole thing is a big juicy piece of office gossip (hell yeah)
  • The prosecution team gets a pat on the back from boss if it's a job well done (personal gain)
  • If it's botched up, no one in the DI room gets a bonus and the Company gets to make some savings (wins and losses again)
  • Everyone learns everything, even though it's a lesson in how indispensable you are (very, very personally painful lesson).
Let's put that aside for the moment and let me share something useful with you today.

When you receive any document from the alleged employee, such as his/her reply to your show cause letter, do not tender it as evidence if the alleged employee has marked it "Without Prejudice".

A document marked as such cannot be tendered in court as evidence and makes no admissions whatsoever on the part of the writer.

If the alleged employee tenders a document marked "Without Prejudice" as evidence to support his/her defence in the DI, you should object to it (if the Chairman has not disregarded it already). A document marked "Without Prejudice" from the alleged employee shows that he/she is not genuine about settling the matter, so motion to disregard it and for both parties to adduce evidence from the DI proceedings itself.

So you learnt something new from this? See - told you a DI makes you better. *smile*

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Question

From now till May, I have to find a question, which for the next 24 months, I have to answer.

I have selected the area of unfair dismissal for my thesis, and I now have to find a specific problem regarding unfair dismissal and propose solutions to that problem.

My Dean has already listed a few websites for me to look up. I've my own collection of IR cases to read and reread over the weekend. I've to search for other people's theses on similar subject matters for added inspiration.

I don't know how common the subject of unfair dismissal is as a postgraduate specialisation in Malaysia. I have not encountered any local dissertations on it yet. I've read a good one from a University of Queensland student though.

My good friends who know me well and who know why I chose this subject matter, have been supportive but nonetheless very amused as to my choice. But I know you guys are also saying, in your hearts, "You go, girl."

Of course my main reasons for doing this are the fact that I am passionate and experienced in the topic and that it is relevant to my work, in that order. But I have a stronger reason.

When I find the question and present my answers, you will know what that reason is.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Hello. It's been two months since my last post. And I've grown up since then.

I've been spending the last phase of my hiatus thinking and rethinking and rerethinking about what I needed to do to change my life. Which of course and needless to say needs to include doing something that I really want and I really like. And I was literally fighting with myself mentally every day to figure that out.

I like too many things, have done too many things. I figured it was time to specialise. But then that thought begged the question, specialise in what exactly? I love this too much to drop for the sake of that and have done that too long that I've become good at it to leave it for this. And then there are these and those which I am quite capable and very keen on taking up too. But at this stage of my life and career, is it wise to make a 360-degree turn?

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

And then of course there are my well-meaning friends with their ratatouille of advices. I looked at myself in the mirror and asked the question my late dad told me to ask myself twenty-five years ago. "Who Am I?"

I then stopped the entire whirligig, got down on my knees, and prayed to Allah s.w.t.

For that is who I am, His servant.

I prayed to him to show me which is the right path to take, and whether I should even be doing this at all.

The next day, I woke up in the morning, and He showed me the light. My heart and my head were clear as day.

The rest is history.

I took the first step. I guess the time wasn't right in the years before, but it is so now. I made a decision which I knew was giong to change my life forever, for the better. In my mind, I saw a door open, leading out to a place where I have always, always wanted to be. Instantly, I changed. I saw and felt myself differently. I rise above the circumstances I am in, breathing easier.

I successfully registered myself for a Master of Science degree by research. Fourteen years after graduating with my first degree, I finally embraced my ambition of attaining postgraduateship.

A Masters may not be a big deal to other people. In the words of my good friend Sham Murad, "Sekarang ni bersepah orang ada Masters." But you see, it's not about the degree. It's about who you are and what you can do with that degree.

And for me, it's about finally doing the right thing and doing myself right, for the first time in a long, long time.

Friday, January 22, 2010

And on the other side of the Causeway, they're putting their shades on.

Today’s edition of Singapore’s Straits Times reports that HR consultancy firm Hudson has reported that more companies will be hiring, paying bigger bonuses and boosting starting salaries of new recruits, based from the findings of a survey involving more than 400 executives nationwide in November 2009.

50% of employers are expecting to pay year end bonuses of more than 10% compared to 28% the previous year, while another 17% expect to pay 20%.

Companies are also looking to pay higher starting salaries to attract managerial talent. Some expect to raise starting salaries by more than 10%.

Many companies are also developing strategies for employee engagement and talent retention, with 29% identifying mentoring schemes and training programmes as the most valuable measures.

78% of survey respondents forecasted that their organisation's performance will be excellent or good this year.

In our own shores, however, the sun still skulks behind the clouds. The Star on 19th January 2010 merely quoted the Deputy Human Resources Minister, Senator Datuk Maznah Mazlan as saying that approximately 40,000 workers were retrenched last year as a result of the global economic crisis and that the Government had launched a programme to offer training courses to those who were unemployed so that they could look for other jobs in the market.

No healthier news about increased hiring, let alone bonuses and pay rises.

This is just my two cents’ worth ok: isn’t it strange to offer training courses to the jobless? The fact is if they are jobless, it means there are very limited employment opportunities out there, and enhancing their skills is not exactly working towards the tipping point, is it. True, the economy is showing consistent signs of improvement, but probably not enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising.

So shouldn’t the focus be to try to create more jobs first? Employers should be offered incentives to keep jobs or to hire more. Consumer spending should also not be restrained, as that will impede speedier economic recovery. Is compelling employers to bear foreign worker levies the only (and the right?) way? How does our neighbour Singapore do it? They were worse hit by the slump than us and yet they are picking themselves up a lot faster.

I’m still finding out. Will let you know ;)

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Happy new year, everyone.

No I really mean it. I hope your year is going to be happy.

It is important to have a happy year, because misery, unlike annual leave, accumulates and carries itself forward to the following years, where at some point you and your baggage will end up radiating negative vibes to people around you, and when that happens in the office, your colleagues will play Survivor and get rid of you. All I'm saying is that it's better to have smelly armpits than 365 days of constipated gloom.

You know, I was in a transition period towards the end of last year, pondering on many things. I pretty much sorted what I needed to sort then I emerged from the phase and was quickly immersed into the beginning of 12 sets of Gregorian months of new projects. Last week I said my schedule is full for the first half of the year. Today I can safely tell you that the second half of my calendar is socially retired, thanks to some recent audit findings.

Yet I am happy. I like new projects. Just one problem though.

I am travelling without moving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The disbanding of RRHR

Today I disbanded my Facebook HR Group, Rock N Roll HR.

I did this was because I personally felt that the Group had not achieved its purpose. When I created the Group I wanted to unite all HR practitioners in JB. Then I opened the membership to all HR practitioners regardless of geographical location. The response was very slow, and not as warm as I would have liked.

I persevered and remained positive. Several people fed back to me and said that the Group lacked attraction. So I organised as many networking activities and events as I can, to bring the members closer together, with the hope of advancing the quality of HR practice in JB particularly and in Malaysia generally.

There were members who supported these initiatives but there were many who did not react positively to them. Some did not react at all. Eventually organising these events became wearisome.

Same went for the discussion board in the Group. I became tired of seeing just my name and my words plastered all over the Group walls. A few other members who contributed ideas and topics also seemed to stop writing after a while probably because of the lack of response from other members. The idea exchange intention had fallen flat on its nose there.

I don't know whether HR practitioners in Malaysia generally still have not embraced the concept of intergrating social media tools with their work. Or whether social media tools do not bear any significance in enhancing the quality of their profession. Well I am a social media activist but I do still feel very much alone in my professional community.

So I have decided, today, to delete the Group. I would much rather see it gone than to see it wither away or left in a hollow existence. If I am the one doing all the work, then it defeats the whole entire purpose of having the Group. I just don't want to carry on wasting my time.

Workplace Bullying

Research indicates that workplace bullying is widespread and that it is more prevalent that harassment.

A survey conducted in the UK reported that 38% of the employees of the National Health Services of the UK experienced bullying and another 42% witnessed the bullying of others.

Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik of the University of New Mexico, conducted an online survey in 2007 that included general workplace questions as well as those specific to bullying. During the survey, the 400 U.S. workers who participated, including 266 women and 134 men, ranked how often they had experienced a list of 22 negative acts in the past six months, on a scale ranging from never to daily. Lutgen-Sandvik and her colleagues found that nearly 30% of the participants met criteria for being “bullied.”

Sadly, there are no statistics for the incidence of workplace bullying in Malaysia, although I am very sure the issue is very much rife here.

What is workplace bullying? There is no clear definition under the laws of Malaysia, but The Law Society of New South Wales, Australia has offered the following definition of bullying: "Unreasonable and inappropriate workplace behavior includes bullying, which comprises behavior which intimidates, offends, degrades, insults or humiliates an employee possibly in front of co-workers, clients or customers and which includes physical or psychological behavior."

 The most common acts which constitute workplace bullying are:-
  1. Having information withheld that affected your performance
  2. Being exposed to an unmanageable workload
  3. Being ordered to do work below your level of competence
  4. Given tasks with unreasonable/impossible deadlines and targets
  5. Having your opinions and views ignored
  6. Spoken to in unacceptable language and rudeness
  7. Coercive behavior directed against your person or property
  8. Unreasonable teasing
  9. All forms of intimidating behavior including physical assault or threats
  10. Any form of demeaning behavior whether business or personal which serves to denigrate the individual being attacked
  11. Abuses of authority
Those who witnessed the bullying incidents taking place had higher stress levels and a greater dissatisfaction with their jobs compared with those who were not exposed to bullying.

Targets of extreme bullying can end up with permanent psychological damage, stress disorders, increased risk of heart disease and even thoughts of suicide. While certain personality types could be more prone to foster bullying behavior, the scientists say the structure of American workplaces could be partially to blame for breeding bullies.

Bullying should never be tolerated under any circumstances. Employers can develop clear workplace guidelines, practices and policies to safeguard everyone. Reducing the risk of exposure to workplace bullying would assist employers to satisfy their general duty of care to protect themselves and their employees.

In Malaysia, the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 Section 15(1) states that “It shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person to ensure, so far as is practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of all his employees.”

In Australia, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 contains statutory provisions for claiming damages as a result from being bullied in a New South Wales workplace. Among other things, an employer is responsible for "ensuring that systems of work and the working environment of the employees are safe and without risk to health".

The Australian case of Inspector Maddaford v Coleman, the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission [2004] confirmed an earlier decision that a timber joinery company had breached its duty under S.8 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 by failing to ensure a healthy and safe workplace. In this case, a 16 year old factory worker was the subject of violent bullying - he was wrapped in plastic by his co-workers, rolled around on a trolley and covered in sawdust and glue. The director and factory foreman were found to be personally liable under s 26 of the Act (liability of managers and directors), even though they were not directly involved in the incident.

When the case was first heard, the company was fined AUD24,000 and the director and the factory foreman were personally fined AUD1000 each. But, in the second hearing, it was found that the penalties imposed were too low due to the seriousness of the matter and the need for deterrence. In other words, because bullying is often hidden or not talked about, the court felt that deterring bullying in the future was a significant factor in determining the penalty. Ultimately, the personal fines were bumped up to AUD9,000 for the director and AUD12,000 for the factory foreman, who was directly responsible for supervising employers.

In some cases, bullying in the workplace may become so unbearable that a person is forced to resign from their job. Although the Malaysian labour laws do not afford distinct protection against workplace bullying, victims of such acts of bullying may claim constructive dismissal where the circumstances surrounding the bullying tantamount to a material breach of the employment contract by the employer.

Bullying in the workplace may also create a claim for damages if it constitutes a form of discrimination. It is against the law to bully or harass someone on the basis of their race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, religious beliefs, sexuality or disability.

Many people, however, are very reluctant to admit that they are the targets of workplace bullying, mainly because they are too embarrassed at being seen to be “weak”. In actuality there is nothing to be ashamed of by admitting that you have been victimised. You can manage these bullies and create a better work environment for yourself and your co-workers.

 JobsDB.com offers these tips:-

  1. Reject requests if you know that you have too much on your plate. Learning to say "no" is a form of strength in itself. More often than not, many of us find ourselves agreeing to too many requests and taking on too many responsibilities. One person can only handle that much. Most office bullies target those who could not bring themselves to say "no" to them. Be polite but firm, saying that you regret you are not able to help him/her out as you have your own deadlines to meet.
  2. Remain firm on your decision and do not waver in your decision to reject his/her request no matter what he/she might say to persuade you to "help out". If the situation turns ugly and the bully starts hurling verbal abuses at you, keep calm and politely tell him/her that you have to answer to your own superior and the tasks assigned to you are more urgent than the "favours" he/she is asking from you.
  3. When you signed the letter of appointment, you should be clear of whom you are reporting to at work and it should stay that way unless your employment contract is changed. You have a right to reject the requests from other people except for your superior as it would be wrong for you to "work" for someone other than the superiors you are answerable to.
  4. There is a thin line between what is right or wrong and what is acceptable or unacceptable at the workplace, especially in terms of interpersonal interaction. Be aware of the boundaries of what is acceptable or otherwise when dealing with the bully. If you feel that your "personal space" is intruded by the bully, know that it is wrong and do something about it. If the bully is persistent in getting too close for your comfort, it might be considered a form of sexual harassment, even without the physical contact or verbal harassment. Get help and ask for advice from someone trustworthy and reliable.
  5. In certain extreme cases when the situation gets out of control, such as when the office bully has gone to the extent of extorting money from you or threatening to harm you, get help. Learn some self-defense moves to ward off possible attacks when you are alone and might be "stalked" by the bully. If the situation turns from harmless to dangerous, talk to your superior or a trusted friend who could offer their opinion on how best to tackle the situation. In the worst case scenario, lodge a police report against the bully if the situation gets out of hand and the bullying case has turned into a criminal case, with your well-being at stake.
  6. A bully does what he/she does best - to make you feel bad. Do not fall into the trap by taking the guilt trip. You do not owe anything to the bully although he/she very much likes you to think that way.

Personally I would advise keeping a detailed, chronological note, or log, of the bullying incidents as and when they happen. You can use this to support you when you decide to highlight the issue to your superior or lodge a police report or a constructive dismissal claim if the need arises.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Checkin' Out

After cooping myself up in my office finishing up my legal work, I segued back into the scene and did some serious checkin' out of various ent venues in JB.

Checkin' out is a regular part of a HR practitioner's job. It involves the reconnaissance (or in Manglish, reki) of resources pivotal to the hosting of a HR-related function, such as annual dinners, family days and sports activities, by way of surveying the venue's facilities, evaluating their service quality, taking in the ambience, contemplating the budget, tasting the food...well, you get the picture.

In my case we have immediate plans to host our Annual Dinner and a bowling tournament. The bowling tournament is in fact going to be held this coming Sunday and the Annual Dinner is some 8 weeks away (and we're still looking for a venue, yes).

So there I was for a good week or so, checkin' out hotels, resorts, clubs, expo halls, gyms, paintball centres, futsal courts, bowling alleys and even a river cruise. I was collecting name cards and gaving away my own like nobody's business. I'm sure half of JB city would have a picture of me in their minds as they watch my Company's ads on prime time tv: "Hey I met one of their managers that day, the one who turned over the carpeting to gauge the age of the dust, counted the stains on the walls, smelled the waiters' armpits and quibbled about every cent in our quotation. If I ever have to kill my competition, I'd hire that lady."

I told you my job was fun. And you know, this whole checkin' out thing? Well, it's kinda perpetual.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I was asked by one of my mentees, Ms Nor Zaleha, for caselaw which illustrates the relationship between lack of training and substandard performance. I hope the cases I have selected below shall be of some help to you, Zaleha.

In the case of Puncak Niaga (M) Sdn Bhd v Mohd Sulaiman Mohd Yahya [Award No. 282 of 2001] the claimant was employed by the Company as a General Manager. His probation period was six months.

During these six months, the claimant was not given any guidance or on-the-job training. After the initial six months had lapsed, the company extended the claimant’s probation period. Shortly afterwards, the company terminated the claimant’s services, alleging that upon review of his performance, conduct and character, he was found to be unfit for the post.

The company, however, failed to show evidence that they had ever conducted any performance appraisal of the claimant, or, throughout the course of the claimant’s employment, impressed upon the claimant that they were dissatisfied with his performance.

The Court concluded on the balance of probabilities, inter alia, that the company had failed to show that the claimant had been given a fair opportunity to improve on his alleged poor performance. The case was decided in favour of the claimant.

“Substandard” or “poor” performance, therefore, is a relatively subjective matter. A person may be qualified and competent for a particular job, but because of lack of proper direction and support from his employer, his true ability may not be able to shine through as he may not be clear as to what is expected of him. Mistakes can be made by anyone, especially in a new environment, where the working culture and procedures may be different from what the employee is used to in his or her previous job.

The type of training required for an employee to perform at optimal level also varies. “Training” associated with performance normally involve practical on-the-job guidance, where the employee is shown “the ropes” on how things are done, not so much skills-based. If the employee does not possess the basic skills required for the job he would not have been hired in the first place. The employee should be given time and chance to acclimatise to his or her new job.

In Rohimi Yusoff v Alfa Meli Marketing Sdn Bhd & Anor [2001], the applicant was employed by the Company as a Marketing Manager. Ten weeks later, his employment was terminated.

The Industrial Court was satisfied from the evidence that the termination was with just cause and excuse because it was based on the claimant’s inability to generate business for the Company.

The applicant applied for an order of certiorari to quash the award and an order of mandamus for a rehearing before another chairman of the Industrial Court.

The claimant was dismissed without any warning and was working with the company for ten weeks only. It was too early to say that the claimant had failed to generate business during that period.

The judge in this case made an observation of IE Project Sdn Bhd v Tan Lee Seng [Award no 56/198]:-

“An employer should be very slow to dismiss upon the ground that the employee is found to be unsatisfactory in his performance or incapable of performing which he is employed to do without first telling the employee of the respects in which he is failing to do his job adequately, warning him of the possibility or likelihood of dismissal on this ground and giving him an opportunity of improving his performance. It is for the employer to find out from the employee why he is performing unsatisfactorily or warn him that if he persists in doing so he may have to go. There is no record of any such warnings. On the contrary I am satisfied that the Claimant had performed his task to the best of his ability.”

Sidel Industry (M) Sdn Bhd v Thanusia Malar Raja Gopal [Award No. 8 of 2006] and Swai Lin v MRTS-Atlantik (M) Sdn Bhd [Award No. 688 of 2006] followed the principles of the Rohimi case.

Is poor performance, then, a form of misconduct?

In Eruthiam Arokiasamy v BM Enterprise Sdn Bhd [Award No 622 of 2006] it was held that:-

“A workman who does not show enough care or enthusiasm in his work but nonetheless plods on with the work does not necessarily commit misconduct.”

A single act of incompetency, however, does not warrant summary dismissal of the said employee. Employers need to show evidence on a balance of probabilities that the termination is justified on grounds of poor performance. Hence, proper written records of performance appraisals, training and counseling or warnings, of which must be acknowledged by both the employer and the employee, must be meticulously kept. Mere allegation is likely to be fatal to the employer’s case.

In Galaxy Portfolio Sdn Bhd v Suradi Sulaiman [Award No 158 of 2006]  it was held that the company failed to prove the allegations of poor performance against the claimant. Even if there had been such poor performance, there is no evidence that the company had ever informed the claimant, who is still on probation, of his shortcomings, or had given him any opportunity to improve himself. The Court in this case held that the dismissal was without just cause or excuse.

Since poor performance is not misconduct, it is therefore not necessary to conduct a domestic inquiry (D.I.) prior to dismissing an employee for poor performance.

In Wearne Brothers Services Sdn Bhd v Yuen Ah Man [Award 188 of 1982] the learned judge opined:-

“I am of the view that inefficiency is not misconduct, which necessitates an inquiry. The Company Secretary decided to terminate the services of the claimant based on the feedback form and appraisals by the managers.”

In Steven Ferenc Palos v Ogilvy One Worldwide Sdn Bhd & Anor [Award No. 2316 of 2005] it was held, inter alia, that the claimant had never been told that because of his areas of weaknesses, a dismissal of him was being considered. Also, the claimant was not given ample opportunity to discuss any possible work-related problems before he was terminated. The company also never gave him any written warnings.

However, there are caselaw in which failure to give employees warning may sometimes not automatically make the dismissal unfair.

In Bedford Investment Ltd v Northern Hotel [1990], a New Zealand case, it was held that:-

“…There can be cases where it is open to the Court to find that employment can be terminated without the giving of a formal warning, even where this might be for performance or other similar reasons…”

In Harmer v Cornelius [1858] it was enunciated that where an employee is hired for his skills and professional expertise, a certain implied standard is expected of them in the running of the day-to-day business. When he has demonstrated his incompetence the employer is not bound to retain him and would be justified in dismissing him without the requirement of warning.

Willes J opined:

“ ..(I)t seems very unreasonable that an employer should be compelled to go on employing a man who, having represented himself as competent, turns out to be incompetent.”

In Littlewoods Organisation Ltd v L. N. Egenti [1976] it was held that:

“..any professional man, a man of the employee’s talent, would, if he was brought to his notice that his work was not up to standard, and if he did not improve the standard of his work sufficiently, he might be faced with dismissal. That was plain common sense with a man of his caliber and a man of his intellectual position.”

Sunday, October 18, 2009


This post is an expansion to another post of mine entitled "RUFFLED." about outsourced foreign worker agencies which I wrote on 9 September 2009.

Now for those of you whose companies are in the restaurant or other service-oriented businesses, you need to be aware that the Government has now put a very short rein on hiring foreigners for your sector: foreign workers are only allowed to be hired as "tukang masak" (cooks). Even so, they will only allow you to hire foreigners, if you can show proof that you have exhausted all recruitment endeavours to hire locals and none were considered suitable, or, if you do not have enough local manpower to man the kitchen of your very large and very busy food outlet.

You cannot even hire foreigners for cutting your chicken or mopping your floor. For good measure, I would also like to remind you that you cannot hire them as front of house crew.

So what does your agent do now in view of these circumstances? Well, these can be the likely scenarios:-

  1. They may "recycle" workers who were sacked from other companies. The problem with this is, the workers's permits will be under another company's name, which of course renders it illegal for you to employ them in your premises. The agent may tell you that whatever company's name stated in the permit is their associate company. Well, use your logic. If these workers were hired specifically for you, how in the world did they get a permit even before they were given the job? And do check the dates in the permit: I can tell you it is very likely that they will only have a couple of months left before their permit expires.
  2. The agents may give you refugee status individuals, and give you a chocolate box of excuses why they do not carry a work permit with them. The agents will tell you that it is only for temporary measure while they source for "permanent" workers for you, or that their permits are in progress, etc. Bollocks. Reject these workers at once and cancel your agreement with the agent.
  3. The agents may be going through the back door. You can spot this when they ask for exorbitant amounts of money to cover various odd -sounding costs and fees, or when they ask for documents such as your original bank statements and EPF or SOCSO statements. NEVER give the agents any originals and for your information, your bank statements are not required. Tell the agent that during the interview with KDN, you want to be present as your employer's representative and you will being all the originals yourself if the KDN officer needs to sight them. If the agent refuses, terminate your contract with them and call KDN immediately to check on your application status. And please don't do back doors. If you get caught, it will be too expensive. And I'm not just talking about ringgits.
The Government is now trying to limit the number of outsourced foreign worker agencies in the country due to the unscrupulous ways of their dealings.

So what can employers do? I know it is hard, I am facing the same quandary too. We need to do something to attract the locals to work. Like I said before, the Government needs to ensure that business in Malaysia can afford to pay better wages and benefits to our local people. It's not that business do not want to hire locals, but locals do not want to work. Mindsets can't be changed in a jiffy, but economic policies can be reviewed a lot faster. It's a two-way street.

Till then, at the risk of sounding like a JTK officer, we employers just need to get creative (though I really don't know how else) to get enough people to get our business going - while all the time hoping this phase will not last.