Over six lakh Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia have got registered under the rehiring programme that ended on June 30 while many of them who could not complete the process as yet are in fear of being arrested, officials at Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur have said.
The number of undocumented Bangladeshi workers who did not get registered under the rehiring programme could not be ascertained, they said, adding that the Malaysian authorities started raids on July 1.
Migrants’ rights organisations in Bangladesh and Malaysia have urged the Malaysian authorities to stop the ongoing crackdown on migrant workers and called for extending the time for registration for the undocumented migrants.
According to a report of the Star, over 1,200 illegal workers were rounded up by the Malaysian authorities in a major crackdown nationwide in last three days since July 1, immigration director general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali was quoted as saying by the Malaysian daily.
When asked, a labour attaché at Bangladesh high commission told New Age that over six lakh undocumented Bangladesh workers registered under the rehiring programme.
‘Many of them are yet to complete the process,’ the officials said, adding that these workers should complete their process as soon as possible, otherwise they should voluntarily return home.
Replying to a question, the officials also said that on an average 1,000 Bangladeshi workers were returning home from Malaysia with out-passes from the high commission in Kuala Lumpur.
Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme chairman Shakirul Islam strongly appealed to the Malaysian authorities to stop raids on Bangladeshi undocumented workers.
He said that there were many Bangladeshi workers who could not register even after depositing their fees due to corruption and failure of the ‘outsourcing companies’ assigned for their registration.
He demanded legal action against the corrupt Malaysian companies, which cheated the migrants, by making them accountable.
WARBE Development Foundation’s secretary general Faruque Ahmed said that most of the Bangladeshi workers who went to work in Malaysia already paid a big amount as migration cost and they should not be punished any further.
‘As Malaysia needs workers, it should legalise them,’ he observed, adding that it was also true that these poor migrant workers went to Malaysia for jobs as there was lack of job here in Bangladesh.
Malaysia-based human rights group North South Initiative’s director Adrian Pereira told New Age, ‘We must decriminalise immigration offences and use non-detention solutions to address root causes and not merely the symptoms.’
He said that above all the migrants did have massive contribution to the Malaysian economy.
Since February 2016, a total of 744,942 illegal workers and 83,919 employers had registered for the rehiring programme, Malaysian newspaper reported.
Malaysian government’s records show that a total of 415,791 illegal workers so far got legalised.
According to Bureau of manpower, Employment and Training, over 9.5 lakh Bangladeshi workers have gone to work in Malaysia with immigration clearance since 1976.
Many Bangladeshi workers became undocumented in Malaysia after going there with so-called professional visas and student visas, BMET officials said.
Besides, there were Bangladeshi migrants who were trafficked to Malaysia through sea routes and became undocumented there.
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