Bangladesh to Send Workers to Malaysia: Minister

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
161116-BD-MY-migrants-620.jpg Construction workers stand on girders at a building site in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Nov. 30, 2015.

Unemployed Bangladeshis could begin finding work in Malaysia as soon as early next month, the minister for expatriate welfare and overseas employment said Wednesday after talks in Dhaka with his counterpart from Malaysia.

Following discussions on Tuesday with Richard Riot Anak Jaem, the Malaysian Human Resources minister, Nurul Islam told reporters that flights carrying Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia could begin in the first week of December.

“Very soon, Malaysia will start recruiting Bangladesh workers for its construction, plantation and manufacturing sectors,” Minister Islam’s office said in a statement released Wednesday.

“The Malaysian minister said they will start recruiting workers from Bangladesh very soon and the Malaysian government is keen to recruit workers from Bangladesh.”

Islam did not discuss the number of Bangladeshis who would be able to find work in Malaysia’s plantation, construction and manufacturing sectors, and Riot returned to Malaysia on Wednesday following his two-day visit without talking to reporters.

When contacted in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday evening, Peter Dennis, Riot’s senior private secretary, declined comment, telling BenarNews that the minister would issue no statements about the meeting in Dhaka.

Number not known

No agreement was signed at this week’s meeting in the Bangladeshi capital, and it was unclear whether the latest talks were a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding signed by both countries in February. Initial reports then said that Kuala Lumpur had agreed to recruit as many as 1.5 million workers from Bangladesh over the next three years for jobs in its agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

But a day after the MoU was signed, Malaysia announced a moratorium on all new arrivals of migrant workers from Bangladesh and other countries. In May, Malaysian immigration officials said that they planned to ease the hiring freeze on foreign workers on condition that employers proved that these migrants were essential to their businesses, according to a report in Malay Mail Online.

About 300,000 Bangladeshis work in Malaysia, sending about 110 billion taka (U.S. $1.4 billion) back home every year, according to government figures.

News of the latest bilateral talks in Dhaka drew jobless people to Bangladesh’s Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training in the capital, as recruiting agencies began promising to find jobs for clients at a cost of 40,000 taka ($507) per head.

“We cannot figure out how many Bangladeshis will be able to go to Malaysia. The recruiting agencies will contact the Malaysian employers and send them, charging some 40,000 taka for each. But I think this is possible to send people [in] two weeks as our minister has stated,” Jahangir Alam, the information officer of the Expatriates’ Welfare Ministry, told BenarNews on Wednesday.

He said the government would be involved in the employment process so recruiting agencies could not exploit potential candidates.

Migrant advocates concerned

Meanwhile, migrant rights groups questioned the likelihood that Bangladeshis could be employed in Malaysia so soon.

“You see how the minister’s comment impacted the unemployed and poor youths: they have started visiting recruiting agents with money. Nobody knows how it is possible to get a job in Malaysia in less than two weeks,” Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of Warbe Development Foundation, a group that advocates migrants’ rights, told BenarNews on Wednesday.

He said corrupt middlemen already were luring poor and illiterate youths and their families with promises of jobs in Malaysia in exchange for payments.

“They are going to the brokers and the agents, as the government has not made any clear-cut statement on the procedure of going to Malaysia for jobs. The middlemen will exploit the situation. They will tell each of the workers that if they do not pay them more money immediately, he will not get the job. Thus many of the people will sell their land and other valuables to manage the money for the middlemen,” Haque said.

Razlan Rashid in Kuala Lumpur contributed to this report.


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