(CNN) -- Malaysia expects to send home at least 200,000 foreign workers by next year to open up more jobs for its citizens, a local newspaper reported Sunday.
Indonesian workers in Jakarta, Indonesia, rally for Malaysian migrant workers' rights in January.
About 2.3 million foreign workers are employed in the southeast Asian country, Home Affairs Ministry Secretary-General Raja Azahar Raja Abdul Manap told the daily newspaper, Star.
The government plans to cut down the number to 1.8 million by 2009 and trim another 300,000 by 2015, the official told the paper.
The country will apply stricter standards to achieve its goals, he said. It won't renew the work permits of unskilled workers after five years. Skilled workers will have up to 10 years.
The goal is to reduce foreign labor in a country that's heavily dependent on it. Foreign workers make up 21 percent of the 11 million-strong labor force in Malaysia. Unemployment in the country is about 3.5 percent.
The majority of the workers come from Indonesia, with Nepal and Bangladesh a distant second and third, according to a 2004-2005 economic report prepared by Malaysia's finance ministry.
Most foreign workers are employed in the manufacturing, petroleum and construction sectors and as household help, the report said. E-mail to a friend