Kl to Send Back Undocumented Migrant Workers

Dhaka likely to face big challenge

Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan | Published: 00:01, Jun 04,2019


Bangladeshi migrant workers. — New Age file photo

Bangladesh is likely to face a major challenge concerning its large number of undocumented workers in Malaysia as the country has iterated its determination to send back home all undocumented workers.

Malaysian human resources minister M Kula Segaran has recently met foreign envoys of source countries that supply workers to Malaysia and has discussed issues with regard to documented and undocumented foreign workers in Malaysia, according to a message received from that country.

‘We discussed and exchanged thoughts about the high number of undocumented foreign workers in Malaysia and methods to send them back to their countries. Malaysia is determined in sending back these workers and to ensure that all workers are tracked properly in the future,’ the Malaysian minister said in a statement issued on May 30.

He informed the ambassadors of the sending countries that Malaysia aimed to amend substantial laws regarding the ministry in order to ensure that the rights of all workers are protected.

Bangladesh High Commissioner Shahidul Islam in Malaysia, among others, was present at the meeting, the statement mentioned.

On May 30-31, a joint working group meeting between Bangladesh and Malaysia was held in Kuala Lumpur and both nations’ officials discussed overall issues about manpower recruitment and undocumented workers as Malaysia launched a crackdown on undocumented migrant workers there in July last year.

On return home, a Bangladesh delegation member told New Age that they had requested the Malaysia government either to grant a fresh amnesty to the undocumented Bangladeshi workers and legalise them or to send them back home ‘easily without harassing them in detentions’. ‘In the JWG meeting, there was no talk of deportation of all undocumented Bangladeshis from Malaysia,’ said the official. 

Meanwhile, Malaysia-based migrant and human rights organisations – CARAM Asia, Tenaganita and North-South Initiatives – recently called upon Bangladesh and Malaysia governments to strictly regulate and reform the existing recruitment process, ensuring transparency and integrity.

In a message, those NGOs have said that there are approximately 6 million migrant workers in Malaysia and, of them, both documented and undocumented Bangladeshi workers number about one million (10 lakh), most of whom are vulnerable to exploitation.

The Malaysian NGOs have further said that migrant workers continue to face numerous problems and they are easy target for exploitation.

‘Even workers who come with proper documentations are also subjected to various forms of violation,’ they said in a statement.

In the middle of May, a high-level Bangladesh team, led by expatriates welfare and overseas employment ministry’s state minister Imran Ahmad, visited Malaysia with the intention to regain the labour market in Malaysia that has been kept closed to Bangladeshi workers since September last year. 

Though Bangladesh officials said that the meeting between the two sides was held in a congenial atmosphere there was no immediate announcement of reopening the country to Bangladeshi workers.

However, Malaysian human resources minister Segaran said that they would resume a system to recruit replacements of foreign workers in all sectors with effect from July 1, which was suspended (by the previous government) in 2017.

Malaysia is one of the largest destinations for Bangladeshi migrant workers. Over eight lakh Bangladeshi workers are currently employed in that country, according to BMET officials.

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