Muallim, 7 December 2023 - Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP) is providing parolees and former detainees under the Prisoners’ Release on Licence (OBB) Programme employment and other opportunities to develop employable skills, which will help to reintegrate them into society. Parolees are inmates who have been released by the Parole Board to complete their prison sentence outside of prison, whilst individuals under the OBB programme are former detainees who are on a licensed or conditional release.
In conjunction with the officiation of JPM-KDN’s District Parole Station in Muallim, Perak, SDP signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Malaysian Prisons Department (MPD) to collaborate in career and training development programmes for these individuals.
The collaboration is part of the Corporate Smart Internship (CSI) programme, launched by the Malaysian government back in 2016. SDP began collaborating with MPD under the programme in 2019 and has recruited a total of 651 parolees before concluding the collaboration in 2021. Out of a total of 129 participants that the company has absorbed as permanent employees, 33 ex-parolees remain as SDP’s employees today.
In renewing its collaboration with MPD under the new MOA, SDP will be offering 235 more work placements in its oil palm estates. The participants will be paid a minimum wage, as stipulated by the National Minimum Wage Order 2022 and the MAPA/NUPW Collective Bargaining Agreement 2019. They will also receive the necessary on-the-job training as well as the same employment benefits as SDP’s workers. These include free housing, subsidised electricity, free potable water of up to 35 gallons per day, as well as working shifts in accordance with the Employment Act, and optional paid overtime.
SDP’s Group Managing Director, Datuk Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha said, parolees and former inmates often find it difficult to integrate back into society after they have completed their prison sentences because of the stigma attached to their criminal past. As a result, they are at risk of sliding back into a life of crime, in order to get by. The company aspires to help them turn over a new leaf and build a better future for themselves through its collaboration with MPD.
“Sime Darby Plantation is proud to support this initiative to give people another chance to rebuild their lives. By equipping them with skills and potentially, references, we hope to help them become more productive members in our society. This programme can instil a sense of confidence and belief that they can lead a better life in the future,” said Mohamad Helmy.
He added that the individuals’ self-motivation is also crucial to ensure success. For this reason, the parties have made it a critical pre-requisite for all participants to join the programme on a voluntary basis. Participants of the programme at SDP’s oil palm estates will also be chosen through a stringent screening process jointly undertaken by both SDP and MPD.
The participants will be tasked to perform general work in SDP’s operations such as field upkeep, weeding and manuring but would also have the opportunity to gain new skills. The option to mutually extend their employment may be given by SDP, subject to criteria such as their work performance and the level of skills they have acquired throughout the programme.
Under the latest MOA, SDP will provide training to the participants in basic plantation management, as well as plantation automotive and machinery. This is in line with the company’s focus on mechanising, automating and digitalising its plantation operations.
SDP is targeting to achieve a 100% local workforce for non-harvesting work in its Malaysian operations by 2027 and Mohamad Helmy said, the collaboration with MPD fits in with the company’s aspiration to see more involvement by local workers in the oil palm plantation sector.