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Can Malaysia solve its big migrant worker challenge

The Diplomat, Malaysia, 25 December 2019 - Since Mahathir Mohammad was returned to power last year in a shock election, Malaysia has initiated some reforms that have been welcomed relative to previous years. That includes amendments to laws governing capital punishment as well as more transparency in areas such as defense, which had been a source of corruption previously.

One of the areas of reform to watch is with respect to labor and the treatment of migrant workers. Overseas workers, numbering around 6 or 7 million from countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh and making up nearly half of Malaysia’s labor force by one count, have often been prone to human trafficking and other forms or abuse. This has at times affected the country’s foreign relations too: Indonesia and Cambodia, also key sources of migrant workers to Malaysia, have previously banned maids from going to Malaysia after cases of abuse.



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