At least 270 Bangladeshi workers, who paid over Malaysian Ringgit 1.8 million to an agent for securing valid working permits as part of the Immigration Department’s rehiring programme, have claimed that they were duped.
One of the victims, Imran Haq Uzzal, has said that he and some of his coworkers handed over their passports and other relevant documents to an agent for getting valid work permits.
They also paid 7,200 to 8,000 Malaysian Ringgit each to the agent; but nothing came from it, according to a report of Malaysian newspaper The Star.
As they were not accepted to the rehiring programme, run by the Immigration Department, they will have to come back to Bangladesh, the report says.
‘I have been working in Malaysia for seven years. When the Immigration Department introduced the rehiring programme, I saw it as a golden opportunity to continue working in this country,’ Imran said while addressing a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
He said that he and his coworkers had sought the services of a Klang Valley-based company for getting valid working permits.
‘We visited their office several times till June 30 (deadline of the rehiring programme) to inquire about the status of our application; but the man who runs the company kept giving us excuses,’ Imran said.
Imran’s fellow Bangladeshi worker Mohammad Alamgir said that they tried to get their work permit from the company’s owner till the last date of the rehiring programme.
‘From June 27, the owner kept assuring us that our application would go through and we would get our permits. But we did not get our permits,’ he said.
Mohammad also claimed that the owner, when confronted, threatened him and his fellow workers.
The group of workers, who are mainly from the construction sector from the Klang Valley and other states, said that they had reported the matter to the police, the immigration authorities and their embassy.
‘We want justice. We hope the Malaysian authorities can assist us in getting our permits. If they cannot help us, we would like to get our passports back,’ said Mohammad.
The rehiring programme, a programme launched by the Malaysian government for legalising illegal immigrants, began on February 15 in 2016 and continued till June 30, 2018.
Bangladeshi migrant rights activist Anisur Rahman Khan, who also works in Malaysia, told New Age that the victim workers used to live in remote areas and they had been cheated due to lack of proper information.
He said that some Bangladeshi agents based in Malaysia, in association with some Malaysian agents, took money and passports from the victims alluring them with legal work permit.
Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program chairman Shakirul Islam, who is aware about the incident, has demanded that the Malaysian government should investigate the incident and realise compensations for the victims from the accused agencies.
He has also demanded the authorities concerned should take stern action against the outsourcing companies which cheated the Bangladeshi workers.
According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, over seven lakh Bangladeshi workers are currently working in Malaysia.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs