A total of 15,000 Malaysian jobs were lost in January, a government minister was quoted on Wednesday as saying, as wilting demand for the country's key tech exports hits manufacturers.
Most of the job losses are in the manufacturing sector, an online report of the New Straits Times newspaper quoted Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam as saying.
Most Malaysian manufacturers make electronic items, which account for about 40 percent of the Southeast Asian country's exports.
Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Da'i Bachtiar said about 100,000 Indonesian workers in Malaysia are expected to be sent home by year end, due to the economic slowdown, according to a separate report in the newspaper.
"Just before the Chinese New Year celebrations, nearly 10,000 workers from Johor (state) were sent back to Indonesia," he was quoted as saying.
"We have more than 300,000 workers in the manufacturing sector and one third are expected to be laid off on a gradual basis."
Malaysia's unemployment rate stood at 3.1 percent in the third quarter of 2008. An estimated 10.8 million people were employed during the quarter, according to government data. Most economist expect the jobless rate to rise above above 4 percent this year.
The country is a magnet for cheap labour from its poorer neighbours such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Malaysia has about two million Indonesian workers, of which 800,000 were illegal, Da'i said in the report.